Gall-inducing insects cause the development of specialised plant tissues (galls) that provide them with nutrition and some measure of protection from physical and biotic stresses. Their interaction with the plant is the most intimate metabolically of any herbivore group and is often associated with high host specificity. We survey the gall inducers that have become invasive pests of forest trees, most of which belong to just four insect families in three orders: Hemiptera (Adelgidae), Diptera (Cecidomyiidae) and Hymenoptera (Cynipidae and Eulophidae). Most are associated with introduction of plants on which they are specialists, but some have also shifted from introduced to native plant hosts. No formal comparative analysis of traits associated with success of establishment and subsequent range expansion has yet been made, and it is often hard to identify why one species has become a major range-expanding pest, while closely related and biologically very similar species have not. We provide an overview of biological traits likely to facilitate gall inducer range expansion, and highlight the importance of natural enemies in community impacts and biological control. Increasing global trade is likely to result in further range expansions by economically damaging species. The effects of climate change on the direction, frequency, and impact of gall inducer range expansions are likely to be complex and probably species-specific.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics