Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp 2347–2358 | Cite as

Effect of invader removal: pollinators stay but some native plants miss their new friend

  • Victoria Ferrero
  • Sílvia Castro
  • Joana Costa
  • Paola Acuña
  • Luis Navarro
  • João Loureiro
Original Paper


Removal of invasive species often benefits biological diversity allowing ecosystems’ recovery. However, it is important to assess the functional roles that invaders may have established in their new areas to avoid unexpected results from species elimination. Invasive animal-pollinated plants may affect the plant–pollination interactions by changing pollinator availability and/or behaviour in the community. Thus, removal of an invasive plant may have important effects on pollinator community that may then be reflected positive or negatively on the reproductive success of native plants. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of removing Oxalis pes-caprae, an invasive weed widely spread in the Mediterranean basin, on plant–pollinator interactions and on the reproductive success of co-flowering native plants. For this, a disturbed area in central Portugal, where this species is highly abundant, was selected. Visitation rates, natural pollen loads, pollen tube growth and natural fruit set of native plants were compared in the presence of O. pes-caprae and after manual removal of their flowers. Our results showed a highly resilient pollination network but also revealed some facilitative effects of O. pes-caprae on the reproductive success of co-flowering native plants. Reproductive success of the native plants seems to depend not only on the number and diversity of floral visitors, but also on their efficiency as pollinators. The information provided on the effects of invasive species on the sexual reproductive success of natives is essential for adequate management of invaded areas.


Biological invasions Competition Facilitation Mutualistic relationships Oxalis pes-caprae Plant–pollinator networks 



The authors thank D. Rojas for helping in network analysis, J. Memmott for kindly sharing network drawing codes, and A. Vale and R. Heleno for their helpful discussion of the manuscript. We also thank the COI herbarium (University of Coimbra) for allowing voucher specimens examination and Prof. J. Delgado Domingos and R. Trancoso (METEO-IST group, University of Lisbon, Portugal) for climate data supply. This work is financed by FEDER funds through the COMPETE Program and by Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) funds in the ambit of the project PTDC/BIA-BIC/110824/2009, by CRUP Acções Integradas Luso-Espanholas 2010 with the project E10/10, by MCI-Programa de Internacionalización de la I + D (PT2009-0068) and by the Spanish DGICYT (CGL2009-10466), FEDER funds from the European Union, and the Xunta de Galicia (INCITE09-3103009PR). FCT also supported the work of S. Castro (FCT/BPD/41200/2007) and J. Costa (CB/C05/2009/209; PTDC/BIA-BIC/110824/2009). The work of V. Ferrero was supported by the Fundación Ramón Areces.

Supplementary material

10530_2013_457_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)
10530_2013_457_MOESM2_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria Ferrero
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sílvia Castro
    • 1
  • Joana Costa
    • 1
  • Paola Acuña
    • 2
  • Luis Navarro
    • 2
  • João Loureiro
    • 1
  1. 1.CFE, Centre for Functional Ecology and Department of Life SciencesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of VigoVigoSpain

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