Date Published:2006 Jun
We investigated geographic patterns of herbivory and resource allocation to defense, growth, and reproduction in an invasive biennial, Alliaria petiolata, to test the hypothesis that escape from herbivory in invasive species permits enhanced growth and lower production of defensive chemicals. We quantified herbivore damage, concentrations of sinigrin, and growth and reproduction inside and outside herbivore exclusion treatments, in field populations in the native and invasive ranges. As predicted, unmanipulated plants in the native range (Hungary, Europe) experienced greater herbivore damage than plants in the introduced range (Massachusetts and Connecticut, USA), providing evidence for enemy release, particularly in the first year of growth. Nevertheless, European populations had consistently larger individuals than US populations (rosettes were, for example, eightfold larger) and also had greater reproductive output, but US plants produced larger seeds at a given plant height. Moreover, flowering plants showed significant differences in concentrations of sinigrin in the invasive versus native range, although the direction of the difference was variable, suggesting the influence of environmental effects. Overall, we observed less herbivory, but not increased growth or decreased defense in the invasive range. Geographical differences in performance and leaf chemistry appear to be due to variation in the environment, which could have masked evolved differences in allocation.