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Diversity and abundance patterns of phytophagous insect communities on alien and native host plants in the Brassicaceae


  • Mark Frenzel,

  • Roland Brandl

M. Frenzel (, Dept of Community Ecology, UFZ – Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Th.-Lieser-Str. 4, D-06120 Halle, Germany. – R. Brandl, Dept of Animal Ecology, Fac. of Biology, Univ. of Marburg, Karl-von-Frisch Str., D-35032 Marburg, Germany.


The herbivore load (abundance and species richness of herbivores) on alien plants is supposed to be one of the keys to understand the invasiveness of species. We investigate the phytophagous insect communities on cabbage plants (Brassicaceae) in Europe. We compare the communities of endophagous and ectophagous insects as well as of Coleoptera and Lepidoptera on native and alien cabbage plant species. Contrary to many other reports, we found no differences in the herbivore load between native and alien hosts. The majority of insect species attacked alien as well as native hosts. Across insect species, there was no difference in the patterns of host range on native and on alien hosts. Likewise the similarity of insect communities across pairs of host species was not different between natives and aliens. We conclude that the general similarity in the community patterns between native and alien cabbage plant species are due to the chemical characteristics of this plant family. All cabbage plants share glucosinolates. This may facilitate host switches from natives to aliens. Hence the presence of native congeners may influence invasiveness of alien plants.

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