Resilience theory aims to understand and predict ecosystem state changes resulting from disturbances. Non-native species are ubiquitous in ecological communities and integrated into many described ecological interaction networks, including mutualisms. By altering the fitness landscape and rewiring species interactions, such network invasion may carry important implications for ecosystem resistance and resilience under continued environmental change. Here, I hypothesize that the tendency of established non-native species to be generalists may make them more likely than natives to occupy central network roles and may link them to the resistance and resilience of the overall network. I use a quantitative research synthesis of 58 empirical pollination and seed dispersal networks, along with extinction simulations, to examine the roles of known non-natives in networks. I show that non-native species in networks enhance network redundancy and may thereby bolster the ecological resistance or functional persistence of ecosystems in the face of disturbance. At the same time, non-natives are unlikely to partner with specialist natives, thus failing to support the resilience of native species assemblages. Non-natives significantly exceed natives in network centrality, normalized degree, and Pollination Service Index. Networks containing nonnatives exhibit lower connectance, more links on average, and higher generality and vulnerability than networks lacking non-natives. As environmental change progresses, specialists are particularly likely to be impacted, reducing species diversity in many communities and network types. This work implies that functional diversity may be retained but taxonomic diversity decline as non-native species become established in networks worldwide.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)