First Evidence of Coevolution Between Invasive, Native Species

First Evidence of Coevolution Between Invasive, Native Species

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Invasive species such as kudzu, privet and garlic mustard can devastate ecosystems, and, until now, scientists had little reason to believe that native plants could mount a successful defense. A new University of Georgia study shows that some native clearweed plants have evolved resistance to invasive garlic mustard plants—and that the invasive plants appear to be waging a counterattack. The study, published in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is thought to provide the first evidence of coevolution between native and invasive plant species.

Taken together, the findings suggest that the native and invasive species could reach equilibrium over a long period of time, said study author Richard Lankau, assistant professor of plant biology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, adding that the study also raises the possibility that humans can help speed the adaptation of ecosystems to invasive species.

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