Effect of invader removal: pollinators stay but some native plants miss their new friend.
Removal of invasive species often benefits biological diversity allowing ecosystems' recovery. However, it is important to assess the functional roles that invaders may have established in their new areas to avoid unexpected results from species elimination. Invasive animal-pollinated plants may affect the plant-pollination interactions by changing pollinator availability and/or behaviour in the community. Thus, removal of an invasive plant may have important effects on pollinator community that may then be reflected positive or negatively on the reproductive success of native plants. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of removing Oxalis pes-caprae, an invasive weed widely spread in the Mediterranean basin, on plant-pollinator interactions and on the reproductive success of co-flowering native plants. For this, a disturbed area in central Portugal, where this species is highly abundant, was selected. Visitation rates, natural pollen loads, pollen tube growth and natural fruit set of native plants were compared in the presence of O. pes-caprae and after manual removal of their flowers. Our results showed a highly resilient pollination network but also revealed some facilitative effects of O. pes-caprae on the reproductive success of co-flowering native plants. Reproductive success of the native plants seems to depend not only on the number and diversity of floral visitors, but also on their efficiency as pollinators. The information provided on the effects of invasive species on the sexual reproductive success of natives is essential for adequate management of invaded areas.