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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

The fast invasion of Europe by the box tree moth: an additional example coupling multiple introduction events, bridgehead effects and admixture events

Bras, Audrey; Lombaert, Eric; Kenis, Marc; Li, Hongmei; Bernard, Alexis; Rousselet, Jerome; Roques, Alain; Auger-Rozenberg, Marie-Anne


Identifying the invasion routes of non-native species is crucial to understanding invasions and customizing management strategies. The box tree moth, Cydalima perspectalis, is native to Asia and was recently accidentally introduced into Europe as a result of the ornamental plant trade. Over the last 15 years, it has spread across the continent and has reached the Caucasus and Iran. It is threatening Buxus trees in both urban areas and forests. To investigate the species' invasion routes, native and invasive box tree moth populations were sampled, and moth's genetic diversity and structure were compared using microsatellite markers. Our approximate Bayesian computation analyses strongly suggest that invasion pathways were complex. Primary introductions originating from eastern China probably occurred independently twice in Germany and once in the Netherlands. There were also possibly bridgehead effects, where at least three invasive populations may have served as sources for other invasive populations within Europe, with indication of admixture between the two primary invasive populations. The bridgehead populations were likely those in the countries that play a major role in the ornamental plant trade in Europe, notably Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. All these invasion processes likely facilitated its fast expansion across Europe and illustrate the role played by the ornamental plant trade not only in the moth's introduction from China but also in the species' spread across Europe, leading to an invasion with a complex pattern.


Cydalima perspectalis; Approximate Bayesian computation; Random forest method; Invasion pathways; Human-mediated dispersal; Ornamental plant trade

Published in

Biological Invasions
2022, volume: 24, number: 12, pages: 3865-3883
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE)
Lombaert, Eric
UDICE-French Research Universities
Kenis, Marc
Centre of Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI)
Li, Hongmei
Institute of Plant Protection, CAAS
Bernard, Alexis
Rousselet, Jerome
Roques, Alain
Auger-Rozenberg, Marie-Anne

Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

UKÄ Subject classification


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