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Adaptation to Global Change

Soapberry Bugs

In this program we learn about coping with environmental change through the experiences of other living things. Invasive species (plants, animals etc. that establish and become abundant upon being introduced into new areas) are principle change agents around the planet. We focus on adaptation to invasive 'environmental weeds', introduced plants that, through their success, threaten the vitality and security of native species.

Soapberry bugs are good guides for this inquiry because they are widespread and easy to study. Through a combination of rapid evolution and flexibility, they have adapted to use a variety of environmental weeds in North America, Australia, and Africa. These bugs offer a real opportunity to study evolution in action, including the evolution of biological control value. Rapid evolution in the ability to exploit invaders may reduce our reliance on riskier conservations measures such as poisons and pest introduction