Project Title

Pollinators and pollination services in human-impacted landscapes

Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Plant-animal interaction science predicts that plant species with a longer duration of reproductive season should have a greater opportunity to interact with mutualistic partners and therefore engage in a higher number of mutualistic interactions relative to species with a shorter reproductive season. We tested this prediction in a tropical flowering shrub-pollinator network. Tropical flowering shrubs provide a model system for understanding how a species’ duration of flowering affects its role in mutualistic networks because tropical shrubs can span from 1 month of flowering up to all 12 months of the year (i.e. the continuous flowering phenology). The continuous flowering phenology is rare and has only been observed in the tropical shrub community. Knowing whether species of greater constancy of reproductive season play a more central, i.e. as hubs, role in plant-animal networks has important conservation implications, as these species would be key for supporting many other species in the community. We sampled planted and naturally occurring shrubs, collecting every flower visitor for 30-minute observation periods. Bee community composition, bee abundance and bee species richness were compared across different plant species to quantify community dissimilarity and what proportion of the pollinator assemblage was supported by each shrub species. Preliminary results indicate that each shrub species supports a unique pollinator community and that conservation efforts in the Neotropics will require planting a diversity of plant species rather than just a few species with extended flowering seasons.

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Pollinators and pollination services in human-impacted landscapes

Plant-animal interaction science predicts that plant species with a longer duration of reproductive season should have a greater opportunity to interact with mutualistic partners and therefore engage in a higher number of mutualistic interactions relative to species with a shorter reproductive season. We tested this prediction in a tropical flowering shrub-pollinator network. Tropical flowering shrubs provide a model system for understanding how a species’ duration of flowering affects its role in mutualistic networks because tropical shrubs can span from 1 month of flowering up to all 12 months of the year (i.e. the continuous flowering phenology). The continuous flowering phenology is rare and has only been observed in the tropical shrub community. Knowing whether species of greater constancy of reproductive season play a more central, i.e. as hubs, role in plant-animal networks has important conservation implications, as these species would be key for supporting many other species in the community. We sampled planted and naturally occurring shrubs, collecting every flower visitor for 30-minute observation periods. Bee community composition, bee abundance and bee species richness were compared across different plant species to quantify community dissimilarity and what proportion of the pollinator assemblage was supported by each shrub species. Preliminary results indicate that each shrub species supports a unique pollinator community and that conservation efforts in the Neotropics will require planting a diversity of plant species rather than just a few species with extended flowering seasons.