Flowering invasive plants can have dramatic effects on the resource landscape available to pollinators. Because many pollinators exhibit behavioral plasticity in response to competitor or resource density, this in turn can result in impacts on ecological processes such as pollination and plant reproduction. We examine how interactions between five common generalist eusocial bees change across an invasion gradient by examining how bee abundance and diet overlap changed with variation in both invasive plant abundance and competitor abundance in a temperate oak-savannah ecosystem. Specifically we focus on the bumblebees Bombus bifarius, B. mixtus, B. melanopygus and B. vosnesenskii, as well as the non-native honeybee Apis mellifera, and their interactions with the native flowering plants Camassia quamash, Camassia liechtlinii, and the invasive shrub Cytisus scoparius. We further examine whether changes in pollinator visits to the invasive and two common native plants can explain changes in diet overlap. Abundance of the invasive plant and other common floral resources had strong impacts on focal bee abundance, with certain species more likely to be present at highly invaded sites. This may be because highly invaded sites tended to be embedded in forested landscapes where those bees are common. Diet overlap was most affected by abundance of a common native plant, rather than the invasive plant, with diet overlap increasing non-linearly with abundance of the native plant. Furthermore, Apis mellifera, did not appear to have direct competitive effects on native bumblebees in this habitat. However, visit patterns suggest that bees most abundant at highly invaded sites may compete for access to native resources. Thus the impacts of this invasive plant on our focal bee species may be primarily indirect, via its’ competitive effects on native plants.
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We are grateful to Julie Wray, Lindsey Button, Ranah Chavoshi, Jessica Bayley, Severin Vallaincourt and Tiia Haapalainen for field assistance; the cities of Oak Bay, Victoria, and Esquimalt, the District of Saanich, the Capital Regional District, and the National Research Council of Canada for site access; and Simon Fraser University and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada for funding (Discovery Grant to E.E. and Undergraduate Student Research Award to J.B.).
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Gillespie, S., Elle, E. Non-native plants affect generalist pollinator diet overlap and foraging behavior indirectly, via impacts on native plant abundance. Biol Invasions 20, 3179–3191 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-018-1767-3
- Behavioral plasticity