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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY BASED TECHNIQUES TO LIMIT THE DISPERSAL OF INVASIVE PESTS

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

Title: Invasion of the Whiteflies

Author
item Reitz, Stuart

Submitted to: Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 26, 2007
Publication Date: December 14, 2007
Citation: Reitz, S.R. 2007. Invasion of the Whiteflies. Science. 318:1733-1734.

Interpretive Summary: As invasive alien species spread, they often displace indigenous species, thus altering ecological communities and adversely affecting agricultural pest management, human health and well-being, and biodiversity. Despite the importance of invasive species, the processes enabling them to become established, spread, and displace indigenous species are poorly understood. Scientists at the Center for medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology,(Gainesville, FL) interpreted the data in the article “Asymmetric Mating Interactions Drive Widespread Invasion and Displacement in a Whitefly”, by Liu et al, which provide unique insights into how asymmetric mating interactions have allowed the B biotype of the sweet potato whitefly to spread through two different geographic areas and displaced two indigenous biotypes of this species.Such questions of how invasive populations compare with their original source populations are among the most pertinent in invasion biology today. Clearly, invasions provide opportunities for dramatic ecological and evolutionary experimentation. Unfortunately, invasions come at tremendous environmental and economic costs, yet understanding interactions between invaders and residents will continue to be necessary for more effective control of invasive species.

Technical Abstract: As invasive alien species spread, they often displace indigenous species, thus altering ecological communities and adversely affecting agricultural pest management, human health and well-being, and biodiversity. Despite the importance of invasive species, the processes enabling them to become established, spread, and displace indigenous species are poorly understood. In their article “Asymmetric Mating Interactions Drive Widespread Invasion and Displacement in a Whitefly”, Liu et al. provide unique insights into how asymmetric mating interactions have allowed the B biotype of the sweet potato whitefly to spread through two different geographic areas and displaced two indigenous biotypes of this species. A valuable aspect of the Liu et al. study is that they documented the process of establishment and displacement as it occurred over time in different areas within China and Australia. Rarely has this approach been possible or undertaken because invasions and displacements often are not detected or studied until they are widespread and complete. Consequently, much of our information on these historical events is derived from retrospective studies, which can be confounded by rapid evolutionary changes that can take place in both invading and indigenous populations. Such questions of how invasive populations compare with their original source populations are among the most pertinent in invasion biology today (15). Also, maintaining a long term perspective is important as shown by Liu et al.’s results, where brief snapshots of the event may not have led to the same conclusions as their longer term study. Clearly, invasions provide opportunities for dramatic ecological and evolutionary experimentation. Unfortunately, invasions come at tremendous environmental and economic costs, yet understanding interactions between invaders and residents will continue to be necessary for more effective control of invasive species.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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