Conspecific flowers of Sinapis arvensis are stronger competitors for pollinators than those of the invasive weed Bunias orientalis.
Biological invasions can affect the structure and function of ecosystems and threaten native plant species. Since most weeds rely on mutualistic relationships in their new environment, they may act as new competitors for pollinators. Pollinator competition is likely to be density dependent, but it is often difficult to disentangle competition caused by flower quality from effects caused by flower quantity. In order to test the effects of the presence and number of flowers of the invasive weed Bunias orientalis on the insect visitation rates in a native species (Sinapis arvensis), we performed two replacement experiments using plants with standardised flower numbers. The visitation rates in S. arvensis were significantly higher than in B. orientalis and the number of insect visits dropped significantly with increasing density of S. arvensis flowers. These results suggest that intraspecific competition among flowers of S. arvensis is stronger than the competitive effect of alien flowers. As flowers of B. orientalis do not seem to distract visitors from S. arvensis, it is unlikely that pollinator competition between these two plant species plays a crucial role. However, it cannot be excluded that mass blossom stands of B. orientalis may distract flower visitors from native species.