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Article alert: Shifts in pollinator composition and behavior cause slow interaction accumulation with area in plant–pollinator networks
11.01.2013

Ecology (2012) 93: 2329–2335. doi: 10.1890/12-0367.1

Burkle LA, Knight TMAlthough ecologists have a solid understanding of the positive species–area relationship, little is known about how and why variation in habitat area influences the richness, structure, and function of species interaction networks. To address this, we investigated plant–pollinator interaction networks of the herbaceous rocky outcrop communities in Ozark glades (Missouri, USA) of different areas. We quantified the degree to which the increase in the number of species interactions with area differed from a null model based on sampling, where numbers of individuals increase with area. Although plant–pollinator interactions were expected to increase more steeply with area than species richness as a result of sampling, the observed rate of increase was considerably lower than expected. Two mechanisms could lead to this pattern: a higher proportion of specialist species in larger glades or generalist pollinators becoming more selective in their diets in larger glades. We found support for the former hypothesis, and those changes in species composition were strong enough to outweigh behavioral changes in the opposite direction; generalist pollinators were more selective in smaller glades. If these results are general, larger habitats may be needed to conserve interactions than would be thought based on species accumulation curves.


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