Changes in interaction biodiversity induced by an introduced ungulate

Authors

  • Diego P. Vázquez,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California, 735 State Street, Suite 300, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA
    2. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
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  • Daniel Simberloff

    1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
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E-mail: vazquez@nceas.ucsb.edu

Abstract

Long-term conservation of biodiversity may depend not only on the maintenance of its component parts but also on their interactions. Here we provide strong evidence that an introduced species is able to affect the network of interactions among coexisting species. We studied plant–pollinator interactions in native forest sites with and without domestic cattle and used these data to construct plant–pollinator interaction networks. Results from nonmetric multidimensional scaling and permutation tests suggest that the presence of cattle has significantly modified the structure of the plant–pollinator interaction network. The effect of cattle on network structure was mainly because of the modification of a few highly frequent interactions, which are likely important from a functional perspective. This overwhelming influence of a few interactions on observed community patterns should serve as a caution to those studying community and ecosystem properties.

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