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PhD ceremony Mr. K. Meijer: Native versus non-native. The interplay between native insects and non-native plants

When:Fr 20-09-2013 at 16:15

PhD ceremony: Mr. K. Meijer, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Native versus non-native. The interplay between native insects and non-native plants

Promotor(s): prof. M. Schilthuizen, prof. L.W. Beukeboom

Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Exotic species. An enlarging problem and often negative in the news. However, very interesting from a biological point of view! During his PhD research Kim Meijer studied the interaction between native insects and non-native plants. Exotic or non-native species have been introduced into by human activity outside their natural range. Well know examples in the Netherlands are black cherry, tiger mosquito and rose-ringed parakeet. Non-native species cause great damage in agriculture, waterways, nature (e.g. by competition with native species) and can be harmful for human and livestock health. The annual costs caused by non-native species in Europe are estimated on 12 billion euro. However, from a scientific point of view non-native species are very interesting. Due to the introduction of these species we can now study certain biological processes from a different angle.

In the first part of his research, using both a literature and field study in both the Netherlands and Japan, Meijer found that non-native plants suffer less from herbivory by insects than native plants. This most likely results in a competition benefit for the non-native species.

In the second part of his research Meijer zoomed in on two insect species. The beetle Gonioctena quiquepunctata, that feeds both on the native rowan and on the non-native (America) black cherry, where they appear to differ in size and host plant preference. Larvae of the fruit fly Rhagoletis alternate feed on rosehips. Meijer found that larvae feeding on the hips of the non-native Japanese rose are larger and suffer less from parasites than the ones feeding on native rosehips.

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