Date of this Version
Ecological Applications. 2022;32:e2522.
Disruption of plant–pollinator interactions by invasive predators is poorly understood but may pose a critical threat for native ecosystems. In a multiyear field experiment in Hawai’i, we suppressed abundances of globally invasive predators and then observed insect visitation to flowers of six native plant species. Three plant species are federally endangered (Haplostachys haplostachya, Silene lanceolata, Tetramolopium arenarium) and three are common throughout their range (Bidens menziesii, Dubautia linearis, Sida fallax). Insect visitors were primarily generalist pollinators, including taxa that occur worldwide such as solitary bees (e.g., Lasioglossum impavidum), social bees (e.g., Apis mellifera), and syrphid flies (e.g., Allograpta exotica). We found that suppressing invasive rats (Rattus rattus), mice (Mus musculus), ants (Linepithema humile, Tapinoma melanocephalum), and yellowjacket wasps (Vespula pensylvanica) had positive effects on pollinator visitation to plants in 16 of 19 significant predator–pollinator–plant interactions. We found only positive effects of suppressing rats and ants, and both positive and negative effects of suppressing mice and yellowjacket wasps, on the frequency of interactions between pollinators and plants. Model results predicted that predator eradication could increase the frequency of insect visitation to flowering species, in some cases by more than 90%. Previous results from the system showed that these flowering species produced significantly more seed when flowers were allowed to outcross than when flowers were bagged to exclude pollinators, indicating limited autogamy. Our findings highlight the potential benefits of suppression or eradication of invasive rodents, ants, and yellowjackets to reverse pollination disruption, particularly in locations with high numbers of at-risk plant species or already imperiled pollinator populations.
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