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Keywords:

  • ecological restoration;
  • ecosystem service;
  • fruit functional trait;
  • mutualism;
  • seed dispersal;
  • weed control

Abstract

Invasive plants are a serious threat to biodiversity. Yet, in some cases, they may play an important ecological role in heavily modified landscapes, such as where fleshy-fruited invasive plants support populations of native frugivores. How can such conservation conflicts be managed? We advocate an approach in which native fleshy-fruited plants are ranked on their ability to provide the fruit food resources for native frugivores currently being provided by invasive plants. If these native taxa are preferentially used, where ecologically appropriate, in plantings for restoration and in park and garden settings, they could help support native frugivore populations in the event of extensive invasive plant control. We develop and critically examine six approaches to selecting candidate native plant taxa: a multivariate approach based on the frugivore assemblage, a scoring model, and several multivariate approaches (including trait combinations having the greatest correlation with the diet of the native frugivore assemblage) based on the functional traits of fruit morphology, phenology, conspicuousness, and accessibility. To illustrate these approaches, we use a case study with Bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera subsp. rotundata) (Asteraceae), an Australian Weed of National Significance. The model using a dissimilarity value generated from all available traits identified a set of species used by the frugivores of C. monilifera more than null models. A replacement approach using species ranked by either all traits available or the frugivore community appears best suited to guide selection of plants in restoration practice.