The geographical distributions of non-native forest insects and pathogens (pests) result from a multitude of interacting abiotic and biotic factors. Following arrival, the presence of suitable host trees and environmental conditions are required for pests to establish and spread, but the role of forest biodiversity in this process is not well-understood. We analyzed county-level data for 22 non-native forest pests in the conterminous United States, developing species-specific models to investigate the effects of spatial contagion, human activities, and host and non-host tree biomass or richness on the occurrence of pest species. Species-specific models indicated that (i) the spatial contagion of invasions was the most common driver of invasion incidence, (ii) facilitation effects from host biomass and richness were present in approximately half of the invasions and almost entirely observed in invasions by sap-feeding insects or pathogens, and (iii) there was substantial variation in the direction and magnitude of the effects of non-host tree biomass and richness on invasion. Our analyses highlighted the prominent role of spatially derived propagule pressure in driving intracontinental invasions whereas effects of forest biodiversity were variable and precluded broad generalizations about facilitation and dilution effects as drivers of forest pest invasions at large spatial scales.
Ward, Samuel F.; Liebhold, Andrew M.; Fei, Songlin. 2022. Variable effects of forest diversity on invasions by non-native insects and pathogens. Biodiversity and Conservation. 31(11): 2575-2586. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-022-02443-4.