Date: January 31, 2017
Source: Technische Universität Darmstadt
Removing exotic plant species has a much greater impact on ecosystems than previously thought. Pollination processes become more efficient, and the pollination network soon becomes more resilient. These are the findings of a major field study carried out on the Seychelles, details of which biology researchers of the TU Darmstadt are now publishing online, before an article appears in the scientific journal, Nature.
Ecosystem restoration often focuses on plant species, explains PD Dr Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury, member of the Ecological Networks Study Group of the TU Darmstadt Biology Department. Kaiser-Bunbury is the lead author of the article "Ecosystem restoration strengthens pollination network resilience and function" which is published in the international journal Nature. An established method was used to remove all non-native plants that were becoming too dominant and invasive. "Up until this point, however, we did not know whether interfering with the vegetation in this way would have any effect on pollinators and, in turn, on important processes within the ecosystem." This very question was the focus of biologists in a research project carried out on eight inselbergs on the Seychelles' largest island, Mahé.
In a defined area on four inselbergs, all exotic flora -- such as cinnamon, eucalyptus and Prune de France -- was removed, leaving behind the original, native vegetation. For comparison, the vegetation of four other inselbergs was left untouched.