Nav: Home

How native plants and exotics coexist

November 30, 2012

ROCK HILL, S.C. - When people hear about exotic plants invading a new environment, there is usually a negative connotation. They often think of plants like kudzu, Chinese privet, or Japanese honeysuckle, whose thuggish behavior can push out the native plants in their backyard or local parks.

While this worse case scenario can happen, it isn't always the case, according to ecologists at Winthrop University and Brown University in an article published in the journal Ecology Letters.

"Basically, we found that exotics plants grow more and can essentially out-compete natives, which normally is a problem," said lead author Matthew Heard, a Winthrop biology faculty member. "But in these communities there are also insects, which prefer to eat exotic plants instead of natives and can keep their growth in check. As a result, native plants, which are less susceptible to these insects can thrive even when exotic plants that are better competitors are nearby."

Heard wrote his Ph.D. dissertation at Brown on how native and exotic plants coexist along the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. His former advisor, Brown University Assistant Professor Dov Sax, is the paper's co-author

In the paper published online Nov. 19, Heard and Sax note that there has been little experimental fieldwork conducted to determine what factors allows native and exotic plants to live side by side. While there have been many potential explanations tossed out, it turns out that just being different is the main reason that they can actually coexist.

"It turns out that in many places, native and exotic plants can actually live together," Heard said. "And this means that exotic plants aren't inherently bad like many people think, but it also means that it is important to figure out what is driving this balance between these two groups."

How long this precarious balance will remain is unknown, but for now it isn't just the case of exotic species being problematic. Instead it's the story of how differences between two groups of plants allow them to survive along side each other.
-end-
The article can be found online from Ecology Letters here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12030/abstract

Brown University

Related Insects Articles:

How evolutionary miniaturization in insects influences their organs
Scientists from the Faculty of Biology of the Lomonosov Moscow State University have studied out, how organs of microinsects change their sizes in the process of miniaturization -- reduction in sizes of incest bodies in the process of evolution.
Spiders eat astronomical numbers of insects
A new study reveals some stunning estimates about how much the world's spiders eat annually: between 400 and 800 million tons of insects and other invertebrates.
How insects decide to grow up
Like humans, insects go through puberty. The process is known as metamorphosis.
Insects and umami receptors
Insects, like mammals including humans, sort chemicals by taste into a few categories and use this information to decide whether to ingest or reject food.
An astounding number of insects migrate overhead
A decade of monitoring aerial insect migration reveals that trillions of individuals travel above us each year.
Common insecticides are riskier than thought to predatory insects
Neonicotinoids -- the most widely used class of insecticides -- significantly reduce populations of predatory insects when used as seed coatings, according to researchers at Penn State.
Ornamental plants for conserving bees, beneficial insects
A new study provides a detailed and systematic assessment of pollinators and biological predators on plant species.
Invasive insects cost the world billions per year
Ecologists have estimated that invasive (non-native) insects cost humanity tens of billions of dollars a year -- and are likely to increase under climate change and growing international trade.
Will insects be the food of the future? Find out at ICE 2016
At the 2016 International Congress of Entomology, which will be held Sept.
GAGA may be the secret of the sexes -- at least in insects
Without simple repeating sequences of the DNA 'letters' GA on the X chromosome, distinct genders could never have evolved, at least in flies and mosquitoes.

Related Insects Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".