New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2001) 25(1): 95-99

Lack of pre-dispersal seed predators in introduced Asteraceae in New Zealand

Short Communication
Michael Fenner 1
William G. Lee 2,*
  1. Biodiversity and Ecological Division, University Southampton, School Biology Science, Southampton SO19 7PX, Hants, England
  2. Landcare Research, Private Bag 1930, Dunedin, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

The idea that naturalised invading plants have fewer phytophagous insects associated with them in their new environment relative to their native range is often assumed, but quantitative data are few and mostly refer to pests on crop species. In this study, the incidence of seed-eating insect larvae in flowerheads of naturalised Asteraceae in New Zealand is compared with that in Britain where the species are native. Similar surveys were carried out in both countries by sampling 200 flowerheads of three populations of the same thirteen species. In the New Zealand populations only one seed-eating insect larva was found in 7800 flowerheads (0.013% infected flowerheads, all species combined) in contrast with the British populations which had 487 (6.24%) flowerheads infested. Possible reasons for the low colonization level of the introduced Asteraceae by native insects in New Zealand are 1) the relatively recent introduction of the plants (100-200 years), 2) their phylogenetic distance from the native flora, and 3) the specialised nature of the bud-infesting habit of the insects.