The forests of eastern North America have been subjected to repeated introductions of exotic insect pests and pathogens over the last century, and several new pests are currently invading, or threatening to invade, the region. These pests and pathogens can have major short- and long-term impacts on forest ecosystem processes such as productivity, nutrient cycling, and support of consumer food webs. We identify six key features of the biology of exotic animal pests and the ecology of their hosts that are critical to predicting the general nature and severity of those impacts. Using three examples of introduced pests and pathogens in eastern forest ecosystems, we provide a conceptual framework for assessing potential ecosystem-scale effects.
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Vol. 56 • No. 5