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Biological Invasions

, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 3505–3519 | Cite as

Experimental species introduction shapes network interactions in a plant-pollinator community

  • L. RussoEmail author
  • R. Albert
  • C. Campbell
  • K. Shea
Original Paper

Abstract

Invasive species that form mutualistic interactions can perturb resident communities by creating new interactions, or weakening the strength of existing interactions via competition. We hypothesized that introducing a super-generalist plant species to bee-plant networks would lead to (1) increases in the weighted and unweighted average degree, nestedness, and connectance and (2) decreases in the modularity. We constructed visitation networks of bees to five native plant species in experimental research plots, in the presence and absence of an invasive thistle and while varying thistle abundance and time/duration of introduction. Species introduction did not change the visitation rate of bees to co-occurring native plants, or the interaction structure between the native plant species and bee visitors; seed set of a focal native plant species was also unaffected. We found the number of bee species with which the introduced species interacted (generality) correlated with significant increases in unweighted and weighted average degree, nestedness, and connectance, but not modularity. When comparing the impact of the introduced species either early or late in the season, we found similar relationships between introduced species generality and weighted and unweighted average degree and connectance; there was a significant negative relationship between introduced species generality and modularity early in the season, and a significant positive relationship with nestedness late in the season, suggesting introduction timing within a season may affect some measures differently. Overall, the native community was robust to the introduction of the super-generalist; our experimental test of network theory predictions demonstrates an improving mechanistic understanding of how mutualistic networks respond to ecological perturbations.

Keywords

Disturbance timing/duration Invader abundance Management Pollination services 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the farmers at the Russell Larson Research Farm, especially S. Smiles and W. S. Harkcom, greenhouse manager, L.S. Burghard, field assistants D. Brough, C.J. Fisher, and K. McIlroy, S. Droege for identifications, and J. Keller for additional field assistance. KS was supported by NSF Grant #1556444 and NSF Grant #DMS-1313115. LR was supported by National Science Foundation grant #DMS-1313115 and a Marie Curie Fellowship (FOMN-705287).

Supplementary material

10530_2019_2064_MOESM1_ESM.docx (405 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 406 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Entomology and Plant PathologyUniversity of Tennessee Institute of AgricultureKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of Mount UnionAllianceUSA

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