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Keywords:

  • Alien species;
  • biological invasions;
  • cynipid oak gall wasps;
  • Quercus;
  • range expansion

Abstract.  Three related species of oak gall wasps, Andricus corruptrix (Schlechtendal), A. kollari (Hartig) and A. lignicola (Hartig) have entered Britain since the introduction of Turkey oak, Quercus cerris L. in 1735. Their lifecycles involve alternating generations between an agamic generation on the native oak species (Q. petraea, Q. robur and their hybrid Q. x. rosacea), and a smaller, sexual generation on the alien Q. cerris. In examining the distributions of these insects and Q. cerris, we hypothesized that: (1) the invasion will spread more rapidly in places where both host trees are equally abundant than through regions where one of the tree species is substantially less common than the other; (2) interspecific competition between these bud-galling species will lead to a negative correlation between their abundances at a particular site; (3) differential recruitment of natural enemies from the native hymenopteran fauna will slow the rate of spread in a species-specific manner. A. kollari arrived nearly 200 years ago and is now found throughout the British Isles, wherever Turkey oak is grown. A. lignicola and A. corruptrix have been here for 30 years, after establishing in S.E. England. A. lignicola is in its final rapid stages of range expansion across England, southern Scotland and N.E. Scotland. A. corruptrix is just beginning to spread through Central and S.W. England. It has occupied proportionally fewer sites behind its invasion front than have the other two species, but is no less abundant at these sites. Nevertheless, distance leaps of up to 50 km were identified in A. lignicola in N.E. Scotland, and the possibility of long-distance transport of infected trees through the horticulture and forestry trades remains. The co-occurrence of mature individuals of both host Quercus species does appear to have increased their rates of colonization in A. lignicola and A. corruptrix. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that interspecific competition between the three alien gall formers is an important factor in determining their distributions and abundance within their invaded ranges. All three species have recruited parasitoids and inquilines rapidly from the native fauna; attack rates were highly variable, but showed no evidence of density dependence across sites.