Patterns and effects of heterospecific pollen transfer between an invasive and two native plant species: the importance of pollen arrival time to the stigma.
Premise: Invasive plant species can integrate into native plant-pollinator communities, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Competitive interactions between invasive and native plants via heterospecific pollen (HP) and differential invasive HP effects depending on HP arrival time to the stigma may mediate invasion success, but these have been little studied. Methods: We evaluated patterns and effects of HP receipt on pollen tube growth in two native and one invasive species in the field. We also used hand-pollination experiments to evaluate the effect of invasive HP pollen and its arrival time on native reproductive success. Results: Native species receive smaller and less-diverse HP loads (5-7 species) compared to invasive species (10 species). The load size of HP had a negative effect on the proportion of pollen tubes in both native species but not in the invasive, suggesting higher HP tolerance in the latter. Invasive HP arrival time differentially affected pollen tube success in native species. Conclusions: Our results highlight the need to study reciprocal HP effects between invasive and native species and the factors that determine differential responses to HP receipt to fully understand the mechanisms facilitating invasive species integration into native plant-pollinator communities.