Royal Society Publishing

Integration of alien plants into a native flower–pollinator visitation web

Jane Memmott , Nickolas M. Waser

Abstract

Introduced alien species influence many ecosystem services, including pollination of plants by animals. We extend the scope of recent ‘single species’ studies by analysing how alien plant species integrate themselves into a native flower visitation web. Historical records for a community in central USA show that 456 plant species received visits from 1429 insect and 1 hummingbird species, yielding 15 265 unique interactions. Aliens comprised 12.3% of all plant species, whereas only a few insects were alien. On average, the flowers of alien plants were visited by significantly fewer animal species than those of native plants. Most of these visitors were generalists, visiting many other plant species. The web of interactions between flowers and visitors was less richly connected for alien plants than for natives; nonetheless, aliens were well integrated into the native web. Because most visitors appear to be pollinators, this integration implies possible competitive and facilitative interactions between native and alien plants, mediated through animal visitors to flowers.

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