Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Vulnerability of island insect pollinator communities to pathogens.

Abstract

Island ecosystems, which often contain undescribed insects and small populations of single island endemics, are at risk from diverse threats. The spread of pathogens is a major factor affecting not just pollinator species themselves, but also posing significant knock-on effects to often fragile island ecosystems through disruption of pollination networks. Insects are vulnerable to diverse pathogens and these can be introduced to islands in a number of ways, e.g. via the introduction of infected managed pollinator hosts (e.g. honey bees and their viruses, in particular Deformed wing virus), long-range migrants (e.g. monarch butterflies and their protozoan parasite, Ophryocystit elektroscirrha) and invasive species (e.g. social wasps are common invaders and are frequently infected with multi-host viruses such as Kashmir bee virus and Moku virus). Furthermore, these introductions can negatively affect island ecosystems through outcompeting native taxa for resources. As such, the greatest threat to island pollinator communities is not one particular pathogen, but the combination of pathogens and introduced and invasive insects that will likely carry them.