Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1045–1059 | Cite as

The invasive Lespedeza cuneata attracts more insect pollinators than native congeners in tallgrass prairie with variable impacts

  • Teresa M. WoodsEmail author
  • Jayne L. Jonas
  • Carolyn J. Ferguson
Original Paper


Invasive plant species can potentially exert competitive or facilitative effects on insect pollination services of native species. Factors that influence these effects include the degree of shared pollinator species, synchronous flowering phenology, similar flower morphology and color, relatedness of invasive and natives, and showiness and densities of flowers. We investigated such plant-pollinator dynamics by comparing the invasive Lespedeza cuneata and three native congeners, all sympatric with synchronous flowering, using in situ populations over 2 years during peak floral displays. Insect visitation rates of the invasive were significantly higher per plant in both years than on the native species. The invasive exerted a competitive effect on visitation of the two native species with fewer shared pollinators, and a facilitative effect on visitation of the native species with the highest degree of shared insect visitors. Positive correlations were found between floral density and visitation rate per plant in all the native species. Although no such correlation was found for the invasive, floral density in L. cuneata was at least twenty times higher than in the native species and likely saturated the response of the pollinator community. Analyses of insect visitor taxonomic data indicated the insect communities visiting each of the Lespedeza species were generally similar though with species-specific differences. The main exception was that the common honeybee, Apis mellifera, was a primary visitor to the invasive plant species, yet was never observed on the native Lespedeza species.


Apis mellifera Lespedeza Invasive Pollination Competition Facilitation 



The authors thank David C. Hartnett and Anthony Joern for invaluable guidance, and for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We also are grateful for the expert contributions of Robert Brown, Greg Zolnerowich, and Mark Mayfield, as well as the field assistance of Ruth Gibson and Sarah Haller. The land managers and landowners of our sites were generous and gracious, and we are indebted to them: Jerold Spohn at Ft. Riley Military Base; James Hulbert at Pottawatomie No. 2 State Lake; Tom Van Slyke and Jim Larkins at Konza Prairie Biological Station; Dru and Mike Clarke; and Jerry Hageman. The thoughtful comments from two anonymous reviewers contributed to the strength of this paper, for which we are most grateful. We acknowledge support from the Konza Prairie Biological Station. This is contribution number 11-335 J of the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa M. Woods
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jayne L. Jonas
    • 3
  • Carolyn J. Ferguson
    • 1
  1. 1.Herbarium and Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  2. 2.Curriculum and Instruction, College of EducationKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forest and Rangeland StewardshipColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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