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Keywords:

  •  alien plants;
  • exotic plants;
  • enemy release hypothesis;
  • herbivory;
  • introduced plants;
  • invasive plants;
  • plant–herbivore interactions

Summary

  • 1
    We tested the enemy release hypothesis for invasiveness using field surveys of herbivory on 39 exotic and 30 native plant species growing in natural areas near Ottawa, Canada, and found that exotics suffered less herbivory than natives.
  • 2
    For the 39 introduced species, we also tested relationships between herbivory, invasiveness and time since introduction to North America. Highly invasive plants had significantly less herbivory than plants ranked as less invasive. Recently arrived plants also tended to be more invasive; however, there was no relationship between time since introduction and herbivory.
  • 3
    Release from herbivory may be key to the success of highly aggressive invaders. Low herbivory may also indicate that a plant possesses potent defensive chemicals that are novel to North America, which may confer resistance to pathogens or enable allelopathy in addition to deterring herbivorous insects.