Alien trees in New Guinea rainforests and their herbivores

Spathodea campanulata and Piper aduncum rank among the most abundant woody plants in secondary forest vegetation in many lowland areas of New Guinea. Our project investigates successional dynamics of secondary forests and life history traits of both alien and native trees in secondary forests open to alien invasions. This study includes experimental removal of alien plants in the course of forest succession, as well as the study of herbivorous insects feeding on alien trees. We studied which native caterpillars were feeding on the foliage of aliens and how host-specific and species-rich were the communities they formed on alien trees.

Study leaders at our Center: Darren Bito, Scott Miller, Jan Leps, Kenneth Molem.

Key papers: Bito. D. 2007. An alien in an archipelago: Spathodea campanulata and the geographic variability of its moth (Lepidoptera) communities in the New Guinea and Bismarck Islands. Journal of Biogeography 34, 769-778 [ pdf file 624 kB ]

Novotny, V., Miller, S. E., Cizek, L, Leps, J., Janda, M., Basset, Y., Weiblen, G. W. & Darrow, K. (2003) Colonizing aliens: caterpillars (Lepidoptera) feeding on Piper aduncum and P. umbellatum in rainforests of Papua New Guinea. Ecological Entomology 28: 704-716 [ pdf file 786 kB ]

Leps J., Novotny, V., Cizek, L., Molem, K., Isua, B., Boen, W., Kutil, R., Auga, J., Kasbal, M., Manumbor, M. & Hiuk, S. (2002) The habitat preferences of Piper aduncum, an invasive species in Papua New Guinean rainforests. Applied Vegetation Science 5, 255-267 [ pdf file 155 kB ]