The role of exotic plants in the invasion of Seychelles by the polyphagous insect Aleurodicus dispersus: a phylogenetically controlled analysis

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The accidental introduction of the spiralling whitefly, Aleurodicus dispersus Russell (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) to Seychelles in late 2003 is exploited during early 2005 to study interactions between A. dispersus, native and exotic host plants and their associated arthropod fauna. The numbers of A. dispersus egg spirals and pupae, predator and herbivore taxa were recorded for eight related native/exotic pairs of host plants found on Mahe, the largest island in Seychelles. Our data revealed no significant difference in herbivore density (excluding A. dispersus) between related native and exotic plants, which suggests that the exotic plants do not benefit from 'enemy release'. There were also no differences in predator density, or combined species richness between native and exotic plants. Together these data suggest that 'biotic resistance' to invasion is also unlikely. Despite the apparent lack of differences in community structure significantly fewer A. dispersus egg spirals and pupae were found on the native plants than on the exotic plants. Additional data on A. dispersus density were collected on Cousin Island, a managed nature reserve in which exotic plants are carefully controlled. Significantly higher densities of A. dispersus were observed on Mahe, where exotic plants are abundant, than on Cousin. These data suggest that the rapid invasion of Seychelles by A. dispersus may largely be due to the high proportion of plant species that are both exotic and hosts of A. dispersus; no support was found for either the 'enemy release' or the 'biotic resistance' hypotheses.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2008


  • biotic resistance, Aleurodicus dispersus, enemy release, invasion, Seychelles