An exotic magnet plant alters pollinator abundance and behavior: a field test with a native mistletoe.
Exotic species can threaten biodiversity by disrupting ecological interactions among native species. Highly-attractive exotic species can exert a 'magnet effect' by attracting native pollinators, which may have either competitive or facilitative effects on co-flowering native plants. However, those effects may be context-dependent. We used a mistletoe-hummingbird pollination system in the Valdivian rainforest (southern Chile) to test whether the exotic tree Eucalyptus globulus (a highly attractive species to pollinators) acts as a magnet species, affecting the co-flowering native mistletoe. We compared hummingbird abundance, visitation rates, and activity patterns between native forest and abandoned E. globulus plantations. We found that hummingbirds were more abundant and visited more flowers at the plantation irrespective of E. globulus flowering. We observed a significant change of pollinator activity at the native habitat during E. globulus flowering, as hummingbirds visited mistletoe flowers more frequently early in the morning at the plantations and in the afternoon at the native forests. Our results showed that E. globulus acts as an exotic magnet species and can alter pollinator abundance and behavior. Our findings demonstrate the importance of considering local- and landscape-scale processes to understand the effects of magnet species on native plants and suggest that magnet species may influence even highly-attractive plants.