Year

2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Biological Sciences

Abstract

In Australia, the effects of introduced mass flowering species and their interaction with exotic pollinators, such as the European honeybee (Apis mellifera), on the pollination systems of native plants have been largely unstudied. In the northern hemisphere, resource-rich plants have been shown to have the potential to draw pollinators from the surrounding matrix, resulting in them acting as ‘magnet plants’. Such magnets may comprise of an individual plant, a cluster of plants or entire population of plants. Two possible outcomes exist for any co-flowering species that offer contrasting levels of floral reward. Firstly, spill-over effects may lead to increases in visitation and pollination due to proximity to the magnet plant. Alternatively, the coflowering species may suffer reduced visitation by pollinators that are otherwise drawn to the magnet species. Australian plants have largely evolved without social insect pollinators and some have adapted to pollination by birds and mammals, in contrast to northern hemisphere pollination systems that are frequently pollinated by highly social insect species. However, these interactions are potentially of great ecological significance as pollination systems in Australia are highly disturbed, affected by both the introduction of exotic magnet plants and social pollinators. Therefore, predicting the interaction between introduced magnet plants, native Australian plant species and the introduced honeybee is difficult within the Australian setting.

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