tions' hypothesis of biological control. This hypothesis holds that since native plants have evolved alongside their native consumers, they've developed defenses to them. Since the newly introduced plants haven't evolved with the native consumers, they may lack appropriate defenses and may be more prone to being eaten in their new environment.
"This is analogous to disease theory in that you might be highly susceptible to new diseases or enemies that you haven't built up resistance against," said Parker.
In addition to its biological importance, the research may help point the way to better strategies for controlling the damage caused by exotic species estimated by noted Cornell ecologist David Pimentel to be more than $137 billion per year in the United States alone.
"Currently, most exotic plant control is done with herbicides, mechanical removal or by importing the plants' exotic enemies," said Parker. "Each of these methods has serious drawbacks, including high costs and the potential for harmful effects on native species. Our results imply that restoring native herbivore communities may be a viable option to help control exotic plant invasions."
Parker is now working on determining whether native herbivores do in fact control exotic plant growth in field settings, an important step in determining whether biological control with native herbivores is feasible.
"Hopefully our results will also lead to better hypotheses about why some exotic species fare so well in their new environments," he said.
Page: 1 2 3 Related biology news :1
Contact: David Terraso
Georgia Institute of Technology
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