Main content area

Evolution of tolerance in an invasive weed after reassociation with its specialist herbivore

Jogesh, T., Stanley, M. C., Berenbaum, M. R.
Journal of evolutionary biology 2014 v.27 no.11 pp. 2334-2346
Depressaria pastinacella, Pastinaca sativa, chemistry, evolutionary adaptation, herbivores, invasive species, parsnips, phenotype, planting, pollination, seeds, New Zealand, United States
The interaction between the European wild parsnip Pastinaca sativa and its coevolved florivore the parsnip webworm Depressaria pastinacella, established in North America for over 150 years, has resulted in evolution of local chemical phenotype matching. The recent invasion of New Zealand by webworms, exposing parsnips there to florivore selection for the first time, provided an opportunity to assess rates of adaptive response in a real‐time experiment. We planted reciprocal common gardens in the USA and NZ with seeds from (1) US populations with a long history of webworm association; (2) NZ populations that had never been infested and (3) NZ populations infested for 3 years (since 2007) or 6 years (since 2004). We measured impacts of florivory on realized fitness, reproductive effort and pollination success and measured phenotypic changes in infested NZ populations relative to uninfested NZ populations to determine whether rapid adaptive evolution in response to florivory occurred. Irrespective of country of origin or location, webworms significantly reduced plant fitness. Webworms reduced pollination success in small plants but not in larger plants. Although defence chemistry remained unchanged, plants in infested populations were larger after 3–6 years of webworm florivory. As plant size is a strong predictor of realized fitness, evolution of large size as a component of florivore tolerance may occur more rapidly than evolution of enhanced chemical defence.