Use of Invasive Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) by Native Caterpillars

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Nonnative plant invasion is among the most severe environmental threats facing terrestrial ecosystems. When introduced into new regions, nonnative plants are thought to shed adapted herbivores. This enemy release may contribute to plant invasiveness, but it also implies that by hosting fewer herbivores, nonnative plants contribute little to supporting diverse food webs and ecosystem services. However, for many widespread invasive plants, arthropod communities have not been extensively surveyed, limiting our ability to assess their contribution to ecosystems. Here, we report on the caterpillar fauna of an important invasive shrub in the Midwest U.S, Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). We find that, despite its nonnative status, L. maackii hosts a surprising diversity of caterpillar and sawfly species. We recorded 91 caterpillar species from L. maackii, and though some were likely vagrants, we were able to rear 61 species to pupation on this host. This diversity is similar to that found on common native woody plant genera in the region. The caterpillar community on L. maackii is dominated by generalist Noctuidae, Geometridae, and Erebidae, but also includes species specialized on native relatives. Overall survival was relatively low on L. maackii, suggesting that despite the diverse community we documented, physiological barriers may hamper its colonization by native herbivores. Size at collection, date and caterpillar family all significantly affected the likelihood of caterpillar survival on L. maackii. Our results provide a foundation for understanding the ecological impacts of L. maackii on insect herbivore communities and the processes by which invasive plants are integrated into local food webs.



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