Article alert: Indirect competition for pollinators is weak compared to direct resource competition: pollination and performance in the face of an invader

Oecologia (2012) 10.1007/s00442-012-2556-9

Palladini JD, Maron JL

Invasive plants have the potential to reduce native plant abundance through both direct and indirect interactions. Direct interactions, such as competition for soil resources, and indirect interactions, such as competition for shared pollinators, have been shown to influence native plant performance; however, we know much less about how these interactions influence native plant abundance in the field. While direct competitive interactions are often assumed to drive declines in native abundance, an evaluation of their influence relative to indirect mechanisms is needed to more fully understand invasive plant impacts. We quantified the direct effects of resource competition by the invasive perennial forb, Euphorbia esula (Euphorbiaceae), on the recruitment, subsequent performance, and ultimate adult abundance of the native annual, Clarkia pulchella (Onagraceae). We contrast these direct effects with those that indirectly resulted from competition for shared pollinators. Although E. esula dramatically reduced pollinator visitation to C. pulchella, plants were only weakly pollen-limited. Pollen supplementation increased the number of seeds per fruit from 41.28 to 46.38. Seed addition experiments revealed that the impacts of ameliorating pollen limitation only increased potential recruitment by 12.3 %. In contrast, seed addition experiments that ameliorated direct competition with E. esula resulted in an increase in potential future recruitment of 574 %. Our results show that, while the indirect effects of competition for pollinators can influence plant abundance, its effects are dwarfed by the magnitude of direct effects of competition for resources.

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