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Pollinator community responses to the spatial population structure of wild plants: A pan-European approach

Nielsen, A., Dauber, J., Kunin, W. E., Lamborn, E., Jauker, B., Moora, M., Potts, S. G., Reitan, T., Roberts, S., Sõber, V., Settele, J., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Stout, J. C., Tscheulin, T., Vaitis, M., Vivarelli, D., Biesmeijer, J. C. and Petanidou, T. (2012) Pollinator community responses to the spatial population structure of wild plants: A pan-European approach. Basic and Applied Ecology, 13 (6). pp. 489-499. ISSN 1439-1791

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2012.08.008


Land-use changes can alter the spatial population structure of plant species, which may in turn affect the attractiveness of flower aggregations to different groups of pollinators at different spatial scales. To assess how pollinators respond to spatial heterogeneity of plant distributions and whether honeybees affect visitation by other pollinators we used an extensive data set comprising ten plant species and their flower visitors from five European countries. In particular we tested the hypothesis that the composition of the flower visitor community in terms of visitation frequencies by different pollinator groups were affected by the spatial plant population structure, viz. area and density measures, at a within-population (‘patch’) and among-population (‘population’) scale. We found that patch area and population density were the spatial variables that best explained the variation in visitation frequencies within the pollinator community. Honeybees had higher visitation frequencies in larger patches, while bumblebees and hoverflies had higher visitation frequencies in sparser populations. Solitary bees had higher visitation frequencies in sparser populations and smaller patches. We also tested the hypothesis that honeybees affect the composition of the pollinator community by altering the visitation frequencies of other groups of pollinators. There was a positive relationship between visitation frequencies of honeybees and bumblebees, while the relationship with hoverflies and solitary bees varied (positive, negative and no relationship) depending on the plant species under study. The overall conclusion is that the spatial structure of plant populations affects different groups of pollinators in contrasting ways at both the local (‘patch’) and the larger (‘population’) scales and, that honeybees affect the flower visitation by other pollinator groups in various ways, depending on the plant species under study. These contrasting responses emphasize the need to investigate the entire pollinator community when the effects of landscape change on plant–pollinator interactions are studied.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:31192
Uncontrolled Keywords:Fragmentation; Mutualistic interactions; Pollinator assemblages; Spatial distribution; Spatial scale; Bees; Hoverflies; Hierarchical modelling; Bayesian inference

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