NEW YORK - An aggressive Eurasian woodwasp has entered North America and is posing a threat to pine trees, says Cornell University scientists and researchers.
Invasive species have diverse impacts in different locations, including biodiversity loss, as a result of native species being outcompeted for similar resources, says the study, which is published in the NeoBiota science journal.
Native woodwasps play an essential role in forests - decomposing dying wood. The invading species can kill healthier pines, which is obviously a threat to pine trees. But they're also a threat to the important native species.
The Cornell researchers are searching for a way to protect the frailer natives.
"We would often observe both species emerging from the same infested pine trees, but the ratios changed with time," explains Dr. Ann Hajek. "Shortly after the invasive colonizes an area, the native wasps emerging from the trees would equal the invasive. However, a few years later, the natives started to get fewer and fewer."
"Woodwasps are difficult to study and their biologies are generally poorly understood," note the authors. "While the native species appears to be outcompeted from pines that both species prefer, it is possible that populations of the native can be sustained in trees less desirable to the invasive or unavailable during the time and place that the invasive is present."
The scientists call for additional research on the native woodwasp in southeastern pine forests in the U.S., before the invaders spread to that area with extensive pine forests.

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