Heimpel, G. E., L. E. Frelich, D. A. Landis, K. R. Hopper, K. A. Hoelmer, Z. Sezen, M. K. Asplen, and K. Wu. 2010. European buckthorn and Asian soybean aphid as components of an extensive invasional meltdown in North America. Biological Invasions 12:2913-2931.
We consider the possibility of an extensive invasional meltdown occurring in central North America involving eleven Eurasian species. The scenario begins with the potential co-facilitation between the European earthworm Lumbricus terrestris and European buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica. Once introduced, European buckthorn has served as the overwintering host for two important invasive crop pests, oat crown rust, Puccinea coronata and the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines. The spread of R. cathartica itself may have been aided by seed dispersal by the European starling, Sturnus vulgaris, and the presence of L. terrestris has likely facilitated the invasion of Bipalium adventitium, an Asian predatory flatworm that specializes on earthworms. Beyond this, the soybean aphid is consumed by a number of introduced species, including the lady beetle Harmonia axyridis, the ground beetle Agonum muelleri and the parasitoid Aphelinus certus. We hypothesize that the presence of soybean aphid increases regional abundances of these species. We discuss both the evidence for this multi-species invasional meltdown scenario and potential implications of meltdown dynamics for invasive species management. The particular management issues that we discuss are: (1) opportunities for managing multiple invasive species simultaneously by targeting facilitator species, and (2) implications of meltdown dynamics for biological control introductions against the soybean aphid.
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