"Exotic herbivores may facilitate the growth of exotic plants by selectively consuming native plants, potentially freeing resources for exotic plants that can resist these herbivores," said John Parker, graduate researcher in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Parker, along with Professor Mark Hay and fellow graduate student Deron Burkepile, analyzed 63 published studies of more than 100 exotic and 400 native plant species.
"These findings were interesting to us because, on most continents, many of the resident herbivores have been hunted to extinction by early settlers, often times to make room for their own domesticated and feral herbivores from the old world," said Parker
also noted that this radical shift in herbivore composition may favor exotic plants over natives.
Recent research, including a paper authored by Parker
in Ecology Letters last year, suggests that native herbivores actually prefer to eat exotic plants over native plants.
"Restoring native vertebrate herbivores to their natural ranges, while reducing the number of exotic herbivores, could be an effective tool in reducing invasive exotic plants," said Parker
Editor's Note: The original news release can be found here.