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Bumble bees selectively use native and exotic species to maintain nutritional intake across highly variable and invaded local floral resource pools

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1. Changes to plant community composition after invasion are well documented but how these shifts directly affect higher trophic levels is still poorly understood. One potentially important factor is the change in nutritional availability after an invasion. Shifts in nutrient availability could affect the nutrient intake of organisms that live in invaded habitats, causing reduced fecundity and survival. 2. The effects of the interaction among nutrient availability, selection, and diet on nutrient intake of a native bumble bee were examined. No nutritional differences were found between exotic and native pollen or collected and non-collected pollen in protein or amino acid content, suggesting that differences in nutrient intake from random are based on selection. 3. Nutrient intake was simulated when pollen was selected randomly across all available plant species and when selection was restricted to native plants only or exotic plants only using a permutation model and compared with observed collection. The results suggest that pollen collection is non-random and that selecting only native or exotic plants cannot provide the protein or amino acid intake observed. 4. These results may help to explain why the responses of native bees to exotic plants are so variable. If the exotic plants in a community can supply the necessary nutrients, bees may readily incorporate them into their diets, but if not, exotic plants may be avoided.

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