gibson-friendorfoe-2010.pdf (1.43 MB)
Friend or foe : exotic flora and ecosystem function
journal contributionposted on 2010-08-01, 00:00 authored by M Birtchnell, Maria Gibson
Exotic flora, particularly weeds, are renowned for out-competing and displacing native flora, consequently affecting native fauna and pollinator relationships. Nonetheless, it stands to reason that weeds must provide some compensatory ecological value. This study assessed whether weeds are friend or foe to ecosystem function by considering the quality and quantity of pollen offered by widespread weeds in Australian ecosystems. Using the Honeybee Apis mellifera as a case study, and information derived from highly experienced commercial apiarists, we determined that 32 exotic plants are important pollen sources. Most species offered high to very high quality pollen. Pollen quality varied temporally, spatially and infraspecifically. Fifteen species were considered more beneficial to A. mellifera than others; only seven species were considered less beneficial. Thus, exotic flora contribute pollen resources that are valuable to maintain ecosystem function, particularly at times when flowering native species are few.