Dr Jaco Le Roux, C·I·B core team member, was recently awarded a National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration grant to investigate the consequences of legume invasions on native legume biodiversity in South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region.
Plants and pollinators have co-evolved physical characteristics that make them more likely to interact successfully. For example, long-proboscid flies, whose tongues are twice the length of their bodies, are able to reach the nectar resources stored deep inside flowers with long straw-like stems. In turn, this interaction is beneficial to the plant because while accessing the nectar, these specialised pollinators pick up pollen and move it to other flowers of the same species.
Can the colors or shapes of invasive plants tell us how they interact with native plants? Tackling the question, C·I·B student, Michelle Gibson and supervisors, Dave Richardson and Anton Pauw, used the problematic invasive Australian Acacia saligna to determine whether floral traits (characteristics) can be used to predict the impact of this invasive on co-occurring native plants in the Cape Floristic Region.