Burns, Jean H.; Bennett, Joanne M.; Li, Junmin; Xia, Jing; Arceo-Gomez, Gerardo; Burd, Martin; Burkle, Laura A.; Durka, Walter; Ellis, Allan G.; Freitas, Leandro. 2019. Plant traits moderate pollen limitation of introduced and native plants: a phylogenetic meta-analysis of global scale. New Phytologist. (Abstract) (Online version)
The role of pollination in the success of invasive plants needs to be understood because invasives have substantial effects on species interactions and ecosystem functions. Previous research has shown both that reproduction of invasive plants is often pollen limited and that invasive plants can have high seed production, motivating the questions: How do invasive populations maintain reproductive success in spite of pollen limitation? What species traits moderate pollen limitation for invaders? We conducted a phylogenetic meta-analysis with 68 invasive, 50 introduced noninvasive and 1931 native plant populations, across 1249 species. We found that invasive populations with generalist pollination or pollinator dependence were less pollen limited than natives, but invasives and introduced noninvasives did not differ. Invasive species produced 3x fewer ovules/flower and >250x more flowers per plant, compared with their native relatives. While these traits were negatively correlated, consistent with a tradeoff, this did not differ with invasion status. Invasive plants that produce many flowers and have floral generalisation are able to compensate for or avoid pollen limitation, potentially helping to explain the invaders' reproductive successes.