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Keywords:

  • agent selection;
  • Australia;
  • biological invasions;
  • co-evolution;
  • Floracarus;
  • Florida Everglades;
  • Lygodium;
  • phylogeography

Abstract

The Florida Everglades have been invaded by an exotic weed fern, Lygodium microphyllum. Across its native distribution in the Old World tropics from Africa to Australasia it was found to have multiple location-specific haplotypes. Within this distribution, the climbing fern is attacked by a phytophagous mite, Floracarus perrepae, also with multiple haplotypes. The genetic relationship between mite and fern haplotypes was matched by an overarching geographical relationship between the two. Further, mites that occur in the same location as a particular fern haplotype were better able to utilize the fern than mites from more distant locations. From a biological control context, we are able to show that the weed fern in the Everglades most likely originated in northern Queensland, Australia/Papua New Guinea and that the mite from northern Queensland offers the greatest prospect for control.