Exotic plant species receive adequate pollinator service despite variable integration into plant–pollinator networks

Abstract

Both exotic and native plant species rely on insect pollinators for reproductive success, and yet few studies have evaluated whether and how exotic plant species receive services from native pollinators for successful reproduction in their introduced range. Plant species are expected to successfully reproduce in their exotic range if they have low reliance on animal pollinators or if they successfully integrate themselves into resident plant–pollinator networks. Here, we quantify the breeding system, network integration, and pollen limitation for ten focal exotic plant species in North America. Most exotic plant species relied on animal pollinators for reproduction, and these species varied in their network integration. However, plant reproduction was limited by pollen receipt for only one plant species. Our results demonstrate that even poorly integrated exotic plant species can still have high pollination service and high reproductive success. The comprehensive framework considered here provides a method to consider the contribution of plant breeding systems and the pollinator community to pollen limitation, and can be applied to future studies to provide a more synthetic understanding of the factors that determine reproductive success of exotic plant species.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Valentin Ștefan for his help preparing the figures; Sam Levin, Brenda Alvarado, and the invasive plant team at Tyson in helping collect the field data; Mike Arduser, James Trager, Tad Yankoski, and Chris Hartley in helping identify pollinators. This manuscript was improved by useful suggestions from members of Knight’s spatial interaction ecology research group, Associate Editor Feng, and one anonymous reviewer.

Funding

This study was funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Environmental Biology (DEB 1145274) and by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in the framework of the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship of TM Knight endowed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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AHT and TMK conceived and designed the experiments. AHT performed the experiments under guidance from TMK. AHT and TMK analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Amibeth H. Thompson.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Communicated by Yu-Long Feng.

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Thompson, A.H., Knight, T.M. Exotic plant species receive adequate pollinator service despite variable integration into plant–pollinator networks. Oecologia 187, 135–142 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-018-4096-4

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Keywords

  • Breeding system
  • Invasive species
  • Native species
  • Plant–pollinator network
  • Pollen limitation