Biotic resistance to plant invasions? Native herbivores prefer non-native plants


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In contrast to expectations of the enemy release hypothesis, but consistent with the notion of biotic resistance, we found that native generalist crayfishes preferred exotic over native freshwater plants by a 3 : 1 ratio when plants were paired by taxonomic relatedness. Native crayfishes also preferred exotic over native plants when tested across 57 native and 15 exotic plants found growing sympatrically at 11 sites throughout the southeastern USA. Exotic grass carp that share little evolutionary history with most of these plants exhibited no preference for native vs. exotic species. Analyses of three terrestrial data sets showed similar patterns, with native herbivores generally preferring exotic plants, while exotic herbivores rarely exhibited a preference. Thus, exotic plants may escape their coevolved herbivores only to be preferentially consumed by the native generalist herbivores in their new ranges, suggesting that native herbivores may provide biotic resistance to plant invasions.