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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Southern Insect Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #393818

Research Project: Ecologically Sustainable Approaches to Insect Resistance Management in Bt Cotton

Location: Southern Insect Management Research

Title: The world’s 100 worst invasive alien insect species differ in their characteristics from related non-invasive species

item ZHAO, ZIHUA - China Agricultural University
item HUI, CANG - Stellenbosch University
item PENG, SHUO - China Agricultural University
item YI, SHANQING - China Agricultural University
item LI, ZHIHONG - China Agricultural University
item Reddy, Gadi V.P.
item KLEUNEN, MARK - University Of Konstanz

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/23/2023
Publication Date: 8/9/2023
Citation: Zhao, Z., Hui, C., Peng, S., Yi, S., Li, Z., Reddy, G.V., Kleunen, M.V. 2023. The world’s 100 worst invasive alien insect species differ in their characteristics from related non-invasive species. Journal of Applied Ecology. 1-10.

Interpretive Summary: We have identified the world’s 100 worst invasive alien insect species. More importantly, we showed for the first time, using a multi-species comparative approach, that invasive insects differ in several species characteristics from related non-invasive insects. Overall, invasive species are habitat generalists that can be introduced via many pathways, have high fecundities, many generations per year, many genes, short lifespans, and develop fast from egg to adult. Other species characteristics, like female body size, genome size and the number of enemies, only become important to invasiveness depending on whether the non-invasive counterpart is naturalized or not, whether the invasive species is globally distributed or not, or whether the species are from (sub)tropical or temperate climates. This shows that some species characteristics are only associated with invasiveness under certain contexts. While our study provides a first attempt to identify the characteristics of invasive insects, it also showed that for many species information on potentially relevant characteristics is not yet available. Therefore, we call for more comparative multi-species studies on invasive and non-invasive insects.

Technical Abstract: While there has been great interest in species characteristics that promote invasiveness, still little is known about the characteristics that distinguish invasive from non-invasive insects. Using a database on the naturalized distributions of alien insects and expert opinions about their impacts, we identified the world’s 100 worst invasive insect species. By comparing species characteristics reported in the literature using a meta-analysis, between the 100 invasive species and related non-invasive species, we found that invasive insects overall experience more pathways of introduction, occur in more habitats, have higher fecundities, higher voltinism, more genes, shorted lifespans and faster development from egg to adult (i.e. lower EAT). Some of these differences in species characteristics related to propagule pressures, life-histories and biotic interactions, dependent on whether the non-invasive species compared is known to be naturalized somewhere, whether the invasive species is globally distributed, and the climatic region of the species. So, our results show that invasive insects differ from non-invasive ones in species characteristics, but that some of those differences are context dependent.