Our fifteen-member USGS Powell Center working group of Federal and academic research ecologists and entomologists is studying the theoretical and applied aspects of insect invasion. The working group’s goals are to: 1) develop a quantitative model that informs prediction of insect invasions that could be high-impact; and 2) refine our working hypothesis so that the relative contributions of the defense-free space hypothesis and the enemy release hypothesis are more fully developed and the role of evolutionary history more fully specified.
We have developed the structure of a Traits and Factors Database (TraFac) for herbivory-specialist insects, and have provided its initial population with traits of conifer specialist invading insects. TraFac will be populated with traits of other invading insects specializing on other plant groups and of target herbivory specialist insects not yet established in North America but with a high likelihood of introduction. We will create a statistical model of species impact as predicted by the traits and factors coded in TraFac, and will extend our model to targeted herbivory-specialist insects that have not yet invaded. Continue reading