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Keywords:

  • adaptation;
  • biocontrol;
  • life history;
  • phenology evolution;
  • photoperiodism

Abstract

In classical weed biological control, small collections of arthropods are made from one or a few sites in the native range of the target plant and are introduced to suppress the plant where it has become invasive, often across a wide geographic range. Ecological mismatches in the new range are likely, and success using the biocontrol agent may depend on postrelease evolution of beneficial life history traits. In this study, we measure the evolution of critical day length for diapause induction (day length at which 50% of the population enters dormancy), in a beetle (Diorhabda carinulata) introduced into North America from China to control an exotic shrub, Tamarix spp. Beetle populations were sampled from four sites in North America 7 years after introduction, and critical day length was shown to have declined, forming a cline over a latitudinal gradient At one field site, decreased critical day length was correlated with 16 additional days of reproductive activity, resulting in a closer match between beetle life history and the phenology of Tamarix. These findings indicate an enhanced efficacy and an increasingly wider range for D. carinulata in Tamarix control.