Mutualistic disruptions promoted by invasive species

Invasive species can induce important changes on the structure, organization and composition of communities due to the multiple interactions (predation, parasitism, herbivory, mutualism) that they establish with native species. Mutualistic disruptions, in particular, are being increasingly reported, especially from the more fragile island ecosystems. Within this research line, we investigate how alien invasive species integrate into mutualistic webs in native communities and what are the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the disruptions promoted by such invasions. For this, we are using the tool of complex network analysis. So far, we have investigated how different species of Opuntia influence the structure of pollination networks in the Balearics and the Canaries (click here to read more about this) and also how they integrate the dispersal networks (here). In the Galapagos, we have assessed how different alien insects and plants integrate the pollination networks (here), the impact of alien plants on them (here), and also the impact of alien plants on seed dispersal networks (here).

On a species level, we investigate to what extent alien plants influence the reproductive success of native ones. We have studied how the invasive Carpobrotus spp. affects the reproduction success and seed germination in different native plants in Mallorca (here and here), and the importance of scale of investigation when assessing the impact of the alien Oxalis pes-caprae on the native Diplotaxis erucoides (here).

With collaboration with Matthias Albrecht, we assessed the impact of Carpobrotus spp. on the reproductive success of bee pollinators in Mallorca and the Iberian Peninsula. We are currently working on a paper on this research.