Arthropod invasion disrupts Cycas micronesica seedling recruitment

Commun Integr Biol. 2011 Nov 1;4(6):778-80. doi: 10.4161/cib.17823.


We recently described characteristics of reproductive effort for the cycad Cycas micronesica on the island of Guam. The data were serendipitously recorded just prior to the devastating invasion of the armored scale Aulacaspis yasumatsui. This invasion decimated the cycad population and after six years of infestation no recruitment is occurring among the survivors. We describe various underlying mechanisms that may explain how this homopteran insect has eliminated host recruitment among categories including plant-pollinator mutualism disruptions, direct damage to reproductive structures, population level responses to declining plant health, and failures of seedlings to establish. Our pre-invasion data on reproductive effort will serve as the benchmark for quantifying how this alien pest is endangering the endemic cycad.