Alien honeybees increase pollination risks for range-restricted plants

Norfolk, Olivia, Gilbert, Francis and Eichhorn, Markus P. (2018) Alien honeybees increase pollination risks for range-restricted plants. Diversity and Distributions, 24 (5). pp. 705-713. ISSN 1472-4642

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AIM: Range-restricted species are of high conservation concern and the way in which they interact with more widespread species has implications for their persistence. Here we determine how the specialisation of mutualistic interactions varies with respect to the geographic range size of plants and pollinators and assess how they respond to the introduction of the alien honeybee. We also compare network characteristics (connectance, specialisation, nestedness) between an invaded low mountain and non-invaded high mountain network. LOCATION: St Katherine Protectorate, South Sinai, Egypt. METHODS: We quantified bee-plant interactions in 42 plots between April-July 2013 and created visitation networks for the low mountains (beehives present) and the high mountains (beehives absent). We then compared visitation network metrics between range-restricted, regionally-distributed and widespread plants and pollinators and assessed topological differences between the low and high mountain networks. RESULTS: Range-restricted bees were involved in a significantly higher number of total interactions than regional and widespread native bees, but showed no evidence of increased generalisation. In contrast, range-restricted plants were involved in fewer interactions and exhibited significantly higher specialisation and a high dependency on range-restricted pollinators. The introduced honeybee acted as a super-generalist and was associated with an increase in network-level generalisation and nestedness. Honeybees exhibited high levels of resource overlap with range-restricted bees and made few visits to range-restricted plant species. MAIN CONCLUSIONS: Range-restricted plants are more specialised in their interactions than range-restricted pollinators, suggesting that the forces shaping the structure of interaction network can vary between partners. Alien honeybees made few visits to range-restricted plants, but exhibited disproportionately high levels of floral competition with range-restricted bees. If high levels of competition lead to population declines then specialised range-restricted plants will be at higher risk of pollen deficits than more widespread species.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: pollination, mutualism, visitation network, endemism, honeybee, invasive, range size
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Dr Olivia Norfolk
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2018 14:03
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2022 10:23

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