The impact of the invasive alien plant, impatiens glandulifera, on pollen transfer networks

Carine Emer, Ian P. Vaughan, Simon Hiscock, Jane Memmott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
302 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Biological invasions are a threat to the maintenance of ecological processes, including pollination. Plant-flower visitor networks are traditionally used as a surrogated for pollination at the community level, despite they do not represent the pollination process, which takes place at the stigma of plants where pollen grains are deposited. Here we investigated whether the invasion of the alien plant Impatiens glandulifera (Balsaminaceae) affects pollen transfer at the community level. We asked whether more alien pollen is deposited on the stigmas of plants on invaded sites, whether deposition is affected by stigma type (dry, semidry and wet) and whether the invasion of I. glandulifera changes the structure of the resulting pollen transfer networks. We sampled stigmas of plants on 10 sites invaded by I. glandulifera (hereafter, balsam) and 10 non-invaded control sites. All 20 networks had interactions with balsam pollen, although significantly more balsam pollen was found on plants with dry stigmas in invaded areas. Balsam pollen deposition was restricted to a small subset of plant species, which is surprising because pollinators are known to carry high loads of balsam pollen. Balsam invasion did not affect the loading of native pollen, nor did it affect pollen transfer network properties; networks were modular and poorly nested, both of which are likely to be related to the specificity of pollen transfer interactions. Our results indicate that pollination networks become more specialized when moving from the flower visitation to the level of pollen transfer networks. Therefore, caution is needed when inferring pollination from patterns of insect visitation or insect pollen loads as the relationship between these and pollen deposition is not straightforward. © 2015 Emer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0143532
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume10
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2015

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of the invasive alien plant, impatiens glandulifera, on pollen transfer networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this