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University of Stellenbosch (2014)

Plant stress and the prevalence of pests and pathogens associated with a native and an invasive alien legume tree in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa

Van Der Colff, Dewidine

Titre : Plant stress and the prevalence of pests and pathogens associated with a native and an invasive alien legume tree in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa

Auteur : Van Der Colff, Dewidine

Université de soutenance : University of Stellenbosch

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2014

Résumé
Invasive alien plant species have devastating effects on the environments that they invade. Australian Acacias, a group of plants that has been planted globally for a range of uses, but has escape plantation areas and became invasive in many countries, are particularly problematic. Acacia mearnsii is one of these invasive alien plant species and in South Africa it is also an important forestry species. It is currently the fifth most widespread invasive alien plant in South Africa, only restricted by the very arid Karoo, thus it is important to assess the different habitats that it enters. The Afromontane forest complex in South Africa is highly fragmented and is one of the most threatened Biomes in the country. The widespread forest margin tree Virgilia divaricata occurs within these forest margins. It is ecologically similar to A. mearnsii as these two species share many characteristics (nodulating legumes, forest pioneer species, fast growing and fire adapted). These species occur sympatrically within invaded forest margins and within these sites, there is a potential for biological exchanges of associated pests and pathogens in the form of arthropods and fungal species. We hypothesize that these two species have different interactions with their pests and pathogens in accordance with the Enemy Release Hypothesis (ERH) and the Biotic Resistance Hypothesis (BRH), respectively. We first compared arthropod associates between these two tree species and found that they share many arthropod species. The native tree did, however, have much higher abundances of herbivores and overall arthropod associates than the invasive tree species, which supports the predictions of the ERH. The distribution of these two species also had an effect on their arthropod assemblages. We assessed their ophiostomatoid fungal associates and herbivore loads and then determined how these pests and pathogens were influenced by environmental conditions along a water gradient. We also compared the effect of plant nutrient content of the two tree species on pest and pathogen loads.

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Page publiée le 12 décembre 2014, mise à jour le 31 mars 2020