A meta-analysis of impacts of alien vs. native plants on pollinator visitation and reproductive success of co-flowering native plants

Ecol Lett. 2009 Jul;12(7):716-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01319.x. Epub 2009 May 4.


Alien plant species can alter pollinator visitation and, in turn, the sexual reproduction of natives. Using a conventional and a phylogenetically controlled meta-analytical approach on a data set of 40 studies, we evaluated the effect of alien neighbour plant species (aliens) on visitation to and reproduction of native co-flowering focal species (focals), and compared such effect to that of native neighbours (natives). An overall significantly negative effect of aliens on visitation to and reproduction of focals was confirmed. Interestingly, aliens differed from natives in their effect on visitation, but not on reproductive success. The negative effect of aliens on visitation and reproductive success increased at high relative alien plant abundance, but this increase was proportionally lower than the increase in relative plant abundance. Likewise, effect of aliens on visitation and reproductive success was most detrimental when alien and focal species had similar flower symmetry or colour. The phylogenetic relatedness between alien neighbours and focals influenced the reproductive success effect size. Results of the phylogenetic meta-analysis were only partly consistent with those of the conventional meta-analysis, depending on the response variable and on whether we controlled for the phylogeny of neighbour or focal species, which calls for special attention to control for species relatedness in this type of review. This study demonstrates the predominant detrimental impact of alien plants on pollination and reproduction of natives, and highlights the importance of phenotypic similarity to the outcome of the interaction.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Flowers
  • Insecta / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny*
  • Plant Development*
  • Plants / anatomy & histology
  • Pollination*
  • Population Density
  • Population Dynamics