Do local enemies attack alien and native Impatiens alike?

Kamil Najberek, Wojciech Solarz, Damian Chmura


The enemy release hypothesis (ERH) attributes the invasive behavior of some alien species to decreased pressure from natural enemies, as they have been left behind in the hosts’ native range. The majority of research supports this idea, but some studies confirm it only partially or even contradict it. Here, we present the results of ERH tests of three Impatiens species studied in southern Poland in 2010–2011. Two of them are alien and invasive in Europe (Impatiens glandulifera, I. parviflora) and one is native (I. noli-tangere). We compared the three species in terms of the percentage of all leaves showing symptoms of disease and/or damage, and also the number of pests recorded on the monitored plants.

In 1071 individual plant controls, we assessed 17 180 leaves, 7552 of which showed symptoms of disease/damage, and we recorded 5721 invertebrates, 5220 of them were pests. Rusts and spots were the predominant symptoms and Aphidoidea were the dominant group of pests. Comparisons of the two alien and one native Impatiens did not confirm the ERH in 90% of the performed tests. Most of the differences between the species were not significant, and most of the significant ones contradicted the ERH. The only results confirming the ERH were found in comparisons between I. parviflora and I. noli-tangere. The tests between two alien species showed that I. parviflora was under higher pest pressure, while I. glandulifera had more disease and damage symptoms, thus, plant–enemy relations differed between the two balsams. In summary, the presented results add evidence that the success of some alien species may depend on factors related to biotic and/or abiotic conditions in ways that are not explained by the enemy release hypothesis.


biological invasions; enemy release hypothesis; invasiveness; congeneric pairs; harmfulness scale; leaf damage; pest attack; plant–enemy relations

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