MORALES Carolina Laura
Invasive Mutualists Erode Native Pollination Webs
AIZEN MARCELO ADRIAN; MORALES CAROLINA LAURA; MORALES JUAN MANUEL
Public Library of Science
Lugar: San Fransisco, California; Año: 2008 vol. 6 p. 396 - 396
Plantanimal mutualisms are characterized by weak or asymmetric mutual dependences between interacting species, a feature that could increase community stability. If invasive species integrate into mutualistic webs, they may alter web structure, with consequences for species persistence. However, the effect of alien mutualists on the architecture of plantpollinator webs remains largely unexplored. We analyzed the extent of mutual dependency between interacting species, as a measure of mutualism strength, and the connectivity of 10 paired plantpollinator webs, eight from forests of the southern Andes and two from oceanic islands, with different incidences of alien species. Highly invaded webs exhibited weaker mutualism than less-invaded webs. This potential increase in network stability was the result of a disproportionate increase in the importance and participation of alien species in the most asymmetric interactions. The integration of alien mutualists did not alter overall network connectivity, but links were transferred from generalist native species to super-generalist alien species during invasion. Therefore, connectivity among native species declined in highly invaded webs. These modifications in the structure of pollination webs, due to dominance of alien mutualists, can leave many native species subject to novel ecological and evolutionary dynamics.