A recipe for weed disaster in islands: a super-generalist native pollinator aided by a ‘Parlourmaid’ plant welcome new arrivals in Fiji

  • Sarah E. HayesEmail author
  • Marika Tuiwawa
  • Mark I. Stevens
  • Michael P. Schwarz
Original Paper


In isolated islands with low pollinator diversity, it has been suggested that native pollinators should evolve into super-generalists that could facilitate the spread of exotic plant species that might otherwise rely on specialist pollinators. Consequently, in the absence of exotic pollinators isolated islands may still be particularly vulnerable to a wide variety of introduced plants. Fiji has a highly abundant and diverse introduced plant fauna, as well as a variety of introduced bee species, but has extremely low endemic bee fauna diversity. We examined bee–plant pollination networks in lowland regions of Viti Levu (Fiji) where there is only one endemic bee species, Homalictus fijiensis. We show that this bee is a super-generalist for introduced plants, and whilst introduced bee species can show high intensities of floral visits, they do not substantially increase the breadth of weeds receiving bee visits. Surprisingly, one introduced plant species, Sphagneticola trilobata, receives high visitations from introduced bee species, even though it spreads vegetatively. We regard this species as a ‘Parlourmaid’ weed that likely augments the spread of exotic bees without gaining pollination benefits. Our results indicate a ‘twofold’ promotion of invasive species, namely, super-generalist native pollinators can promote the spread of diverse introduced plants, and Parlourmaid plants provide resources that can promote the spread of introduced pollinators.


Apis mellifera Homalictus Invasive weeds Pollination Super-generalist 



We would like to thank the Australia and Pacific Science Foundation (grant number APSF 14/1) and New Colombo Plan (grant number NCPST Fiji 15482) for funding this Project. Many thanks go to Dr. Randy Thaman for his help with identifying plant species. We would also like to thank Sean Cummings, Kristen Schubert, and Matt Hisee for their help in the field and laboratory.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10530_2019_1923_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 35 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.South Pacific Regional HerbariumUniversity of the South PacificSuvaFiji
  3. 3.South Australian MuseumAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.School of Pharmacy and Medical SciencesUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

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