The impact of an alien plant on a native plant–pollinator network: an experimental approach


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Studies of pairwise interactions have shown that an alien plant can affect the pollination of a native plant, this effect being mediated by shared pollinators. Here we use a manipulative field experiment, to investigate the impact of the alien plant Impatiens glandulifera on an entire community of coflowering native plants. Visitation and pollen transport networks were constructed to compare replicated I. glandulifera invaded and I. glandulifera removal plots. Invaded plots had significantly higher visitor species richness, visitor abundance and flower visitation. However, the pollen transport networks were dominated by alien pollen grains in the invaded plots and consequently higher visitation may not translate in facilitation for pollination. The more generalized insects were more likely to visit the alien plant, and Hymenoptera and Hemiptera were more likely to visit the alien than Coleoptera. Our data indicate that generalized native pollinators can provide a pathway of integration for alien plants into native visitation systems.