s41467-021-23030-1.pdf (1.65 MB)

Exotic plants accumulate and share herbivores yet dominate communities via rapid growth

Download (1.65 MB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 20:17 authored by Warwick Allen, Lauren Waller, Barbara BarrattBarbara Barratt, Ian Dickie, Jason Tylianakis
Herbivores may facilitate or impede exotic plant invasion, depending on their direct and indirect interactions with exotic plants relative to co-occurring natives. However, previous studies investigating direct effects have mostly used pairwise native-exotic comparisons with few enemies, reached conflicting conclusions, and largely overlooked indirect interactions such as apparent competition. Here, we ask whether native and exotic plants differ in their interactions with invertebrate herbivores. We manipulate and measure plant-herbivore and plant-soil biota interactions in 160 experimental mesocosm communities to test several invasion hypotheses. We find that compared with natives, exotic plants support higher herbivore diversity and biomass, and experience larger proportional biomass reductions from herbivory, regardless of whether specialist soil biota are present. Yet, exotics consistently dominate community biomass, likely due to their fast growth rates rather than strong potential to exert apparent competition on neighbors. We conclude that polyphagous invertebrate herbivores are unlikely to play significant direct or indirect roles in mediating plant invasions, especially for fast-growing exotic plants.


Rights statement

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.


  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No


Springer Nature

Journal title

Nature Communications




Allen, W. J., Waller, L. P., Barratt, B. I. P., Dickie, I. A., & Tylianakis, J. M. (2021). Exotic plants accumulate and share herbivores yet dominate communities via rapid growth. Nature Communications, 12, 2696. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-23030-1

Job code


Usage metrics


    Ref. manager