Skip to Main Content
Ecology of forest insect invasionsAuthor(s): E.G. Brockerhoff; A.M. Liebhold
Source: Biological Invasions
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
View PDF (652.0 KB)
DescriptionForests in virtually all regions of the world are being affected by invasions of non-native insects. We conducted an in-depth review of the traits of successful invasive forest insects and the ecological processes involved in insect invasions across the universal invasion phases (transport and arrival, establishment, spread and impacts). Most forest insect invasions are accidental consequences of international trade. The dominant invasion 'pathways' are live plant imports, shipment of solid wood packaging material, "hitchhiking" on inanimate objects, and intentional introductions of biological control agents. Invading insects exhibit a variety of life histories and include herbivores, detritivores, predators and parasitoids. Herbivores are considered the most damaging and include wood-borers, sap-feeders, foliage-feeders and seed eaters. Most non-native herbivorous forest insects apparently cause little noticeable damage but some species have profoundly altered the composition and ecological functioning of forests. In some cases, non-native herbivorous insects have virtually eliminated their hosts, resulting in major changes in forest composition and ecosystem processes. Invasive predators (e.g., wasps and ants) can have major effects on forest communities. Some parasitoids have caused the decline of native hosts. Key ecological factors during the successive invasion phases are illustrated. Escape from natural enemies explains some of the extreme impacts of forest herbivores but in other cases, severe impacts result from a lack of host defenses due to a lack of evolutionary exposure. Many aspects of forest insect invasions remain poorly understood including indirect impacts via apparent competition and facilitation of other invaders, which are often cryptic and not well studied.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationBrockerhoff, E.G.; Liebhold, A.M. 2017. Ecology of forest insect invasions. Biological Invasions. 19(11): 3141-3159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-017-1514-1.
KeywordsBiogeographic patterns, Biotic resistance, Establishment, Impacts, Invasibility, Invasion pathways, Invasiveness, Spread, Transport
- Biological invasions in forest ecosystems
- Biological invasions on oceanic islands: Implications for island ecosystems and avifauna
- Eradication and containment of non-native forest insects: successes and failures
XML: View XML