Aim To examine the composition and structure of the arthropod community on the invasive weed Lepidium draba in its native, expanded and introduced ranges, in order to elucidate the lack of a biotic constraint that may facilitate invasion.
Location Europe and western North America.
Methods Identical sampling protocols were used to collect data from a total of 35 populations of L. draba in its native (Eastern European), expanded (Western European) and introduced (western US) ranges. A bootstrapping analysis was used to compare herbivore richness, diversity and evenness among the regions. Core species groups (monophages, oligophages and polyphages) on the plant were defined and their abundances and host utilization patterns described.
Results Species richness was greatest in the native range, while species diversity and evenness were similar in the native and expanded range, but significantly greater than in the introduced range of L. draba. Specialist herbivore abundance was greater in the native and expanded compared with the introduced range. Oligophagous Brassicaceae-feeders were equally abundant in all three ranges, and polyphagous herbivore abundance was significantly greater in the introduced range. Overall herbivore abundance was greater in the introduced range. Host utilization was more complete in the two European ranges due to monophagous herbivores that do not exist in the introduced range. Root feeders and gall formers were completely absent from the introduced range, which was dominated by generalist sap-sucking herbivores. However, one indigenous stem-mining weevil, Ceutorhynchus americanus, occurred on L. draba in the introduced range.
Main conclusions This is, to our knowledge, the first study documenting greater herbivore abundance on an invasive weed in its introduced, compared with its native, range. However, greater abundance does not necessarily translate to greater impact. We argue that, despite the greater total herbivore abundance in the introduced range, differences in the herbivore community structure (specialist vs. generalist herbivory) may contribute to the invasion success of L. draba in the western USA.