Positive interactions among plant species for pollinator service: assessing the ‘magnet species’ concept with invasive species

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Abstract

Plants with poorly attractive flowers or with little floral rewards may have inadequate pollinator service, which in turn reduces seed output. However, pollinator service of less attractive species could be enhanced when they are associated with species with highly attractive flowers (so called ‘magnet-species’). Although several studies have reported the magnet species effect, few of them have evaluated whether this positive interaction result in an enhancement of the seed output for the beneficiary species. Here, we compared pollinator visitation rates and seed output of the invasive annual species Carduus pycnocephalus when grow associated with shrubs of the invasive Lupinus arboreus and when grow alone, and hypothesized that L. arboreus acts as a magnet species for C. pycnocephalus. Results showed that C. pycnocephalus individuals associated with L. arboreus had higher pollinator visitation rates and higher seed output than individuals growing alone. The higher visitation rates of C. pycnocephalus associated to L. arboreus were maintained after accounting for flower density, which consistently supports our hypothesis on the magnet species effect of L. arboreus. Given that both species are invasives, the facilitated pollination and reproduction of C. pycnocephalus by L. arboreus could promote its naturalization in the community, suggesting a synergistic invasional process contributing to an ‘invasional meltdown’. The magnet effect of Lupinus on Carduus found in this study seems to be one the first examples of indirect facilitative interactions via increased pollination among invasive species.

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