Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Valerie E. Peters

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Second Advisor

Jennifer M. Koslow

Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Third Advisor

Kelly Watson

Department Affiliation



The diversity of mutualistic interactions in the Neotropics exceeds that of all other tropical regions and is posited to result from a unique assemblage of plant species that produce the highest spatio-temporal predictability of food resources. A rare component of the Neotropical flora that contributes largely to the spatio-temporal predictability of food resources is found in understory shrub or tree-let species with a continuous reproductive phenology (i.e. produce fruit and flowers daily during all months of the year). Plant-animal interaction science suggests that plant species with a longer duration of reproductive phenology will accumulate more mutualistic partners over time and therefore play a more central role in the network. Here we focused on shrubs that display a continuous reproductive phenology for their role in a lowland plant-pollinator network to assess the role of flowering duration in network structure. Modularity analyses indicate focal shrubs are not all highly connected in the network, instead most were assigned as peripherals (z-score < 2.5, c-score < 0.62), two shrub species which scored above the among module connectivity threshold (c-score > 0.62) were assigned connector roles. These results differ from theoretical studies relating flowering duration to plant network role. Pollinator community composition and interaction composition varied between years, but the core set of interactions remained consistent for focal shrub species. Not all plant species with the continuous flowering phenology may accumulate more partners over time as observed with more intermediate flowering phenologies, owing to the low abundance of flowers produced daily or the higher degree of interaction specialization.