Effects of native pollinator specialization, self-compatibility and flowering duration of European plant species on their invasiveness elsewhere
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- When entomophilous plants are introduced to a new region, they may leave behind their usual pollinators. In particular, plant species with specialized pollination may then be less likely to establish and spread (i.e. become invasive). Moreover, other reproductive characteristics such as self-compatibility and flowering duration may also affect invasion success.
- Here, we specifically asked whether plant species' specialization towards pollinator species and families, respectively, as measured in the native range, self-compatibility, flowering duration and their interactions are related to the degree of invasion (i.e. a measure of regional abundance) in non-native regions.
- We used plant–pollinator interaction data from 119 German grassland sites to calculate unbiased indices of plant specialization towards pollinator species and families for 118 European plant species. We related these specialization indices, flowering duration, self-compatibility and their interactions to the degree of invasion of each species in seven large countries on four non-Eurasian continents.
- In all models, plant species with long flowering durations had the highest degree of invasion. The best model included the specialization index based on pollinator species instead of the one based on pollinator families. Specialization towards pollinator species had a marginally significant positive effect on the degree of invasion in non-native regions for self-compatible, but not for self-incompatible species.
- Synthesis. We showed that long flowering duration is related to the degree of invasion in other parts of the world, and a trend that pollinator generalization in the native range may interact with self-compatibility in determining the degree of invasion. Therefore, we conclude that such reproductive characteristics should be considered in risk assessment and management of introduced plant species.