ECOLOGY/EVOLUTION

Something New to Chew On

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Science  22 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5636, pp. 1019
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5636.1019c

The introduction of exotic species to existing habitats has become a worldwide problem, with serious ecological and economic effects. The release from their familiar enemies—pathogens and herbivores—is one mechanism by which exotic plant species may establish themselves in fresh habitats, sometimes at the cost of indigenous flora. Nevertheless, new work shows this to be an oversimplification. In a field experiment in Canada in which locally occurring species were compared with closely related exotics from Europe or Asia, Agrawal and Kotanen show that, within their introduced range, non-native plants may actually suffer greater levels of attack by herbivores than related species native to the territory. This result suggests that invading plants may be more likely to prosper in a new area if their close relatives are absent. — AMS

Ecol. Lett. 6, 712 (2003).

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