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Rapid shifts in the chemical composition of aspen forests: an introduced herbivore as an agent of natural selection


Bailey, J and Schweitzer, J and Rehill, BJ and Irschick, DJ and Whitham, TG and Lindroth, RL, Rapid shifts in the chemical composition of aspen forests: an introduced herbivore as an agent of natural selection, Biological Invasions, 9, (6) pp. 715-722. ISSN 1387-3547 (2007) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10530-006-9071-z


The global ecological impacts of introduced and exotic species can be dramatic, leading to losses in biodiversity and ecosystem "meltdown", however, the evolutionary impacts of introduced species are much less understood. Further, very few studies have examined whether mammalian herbivores can act as agents of natural selection for plant traits. We examined the hypothesis that variation in aspen phytochemistry resulted in selective herbivory by Cervus elaphus (elk), an introduced mammalian herbivore. With the experimental removal of a large elk exclosure, elk selectively eliminated 60% of an aspen population previously protected from herbivory resulting in a dramatic shift in the phytochemical composition of the aspen forest. Selection gradients (β) varied from 0.52 to 0.66, well above average relative to other studies of selection. These results indicate that introduced herbivores can have rapid evolutionary consequences even on long lived native species. Because there are fundamental links between phytochemistry, biodiversity and ecosystem processes, the effects of an introduced herbivore are likely to have cascading impacts on the services ecosystems provide. © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Evolutionary biology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Bailey, J (Associate Professor Joe Bailey)
UTAS Author:Schweitzer, J (Dr Jen Schweitzer)
ID Code:73660
Year Published:2007
Web of Science® Times Cited:45
Deposited By:Research Division
Deposited On:2011-10-19
Last Modified:2011-10-19

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