Post contributed by Hugo Marrero
A paper on the influence of exotic plants on the pollination niche overlap among plants in an agroecosystem was just published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. The study, which is part of my PhD thesis, focuses on pollinator-mediated interactions among plants. The idea was to evaluate the transport of pollen by pollinators in agricultural and restored ecosystems, and how exotic plant species can disrupt such transport by increasing niche overlap among coexisting plant species. In doing so, we described for the first time a community-wide pollen transport network in an agroecosystem. The study involved many hours of laboratory work due to the difficulty of determining and counting the pollen grains carried by pollinators. But it was worth the effort, as the results were very interesting: we found that the diversity of pollen transported by pollinators and the overlap in the pollination niche among plants were greater in agricultural sites than in restored sites. Exotic plant species contributed positively to an increase in niche overlap, while native species contributed negatively, promoting decreased overlap. These results may be useful to improve our understanding of the ecology of pollinator-mediated interactions among plants, and of how alien species may disrupt the functioning of interactions among native species.
You can find the final version of the manuscript in the journal`s web site, or send me an email at hugomarrero[_at_]gmail.com to request the pdf.
Nice study, great work!