Interaction turnover among pollination networks across space, time, and environment

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Pollination networks provide an ideal system in which to test hypotheses around interaction turnover across ecologically meaningful gradients, as there is already baseline understanding of plant and pollinator communities. Parallel declines in plants and pollinators imply that disruption of interactions between species in pollination networks may be leading to pollinator declines; therefore, beginning to understand how plant-pollinator interactions turnover through space, time, and environment could be vital for future conservation and management efforts. I investigated i.) how do plant and pollinator species diversity (i.e., richness and evenness), phenology, and composition change across space, time, and environment, ii.) how do interactions between pollination networks turn over across these same gradients (i.e., space, time, and environment), and iii.) what is the relative contribution of species turnover (plant, pollinator, or both simultaneously) vs. host switching to interaction turnover among pollination networks? Field work was conducted during summer 2012 on the Beartooth Plateau, an alpine ecosystem in Montana and Wyoming, with weekly observations of plant-pollinator interactions and the floral community across the growing season. Community diversity and composition were compared across space, time, elevation, slope, and aspect using linear regressions, t-tests, and principle coordinate analysis. Interaction turnover was calculated between all possible pair wise combinations of study site and week and compared across, space, time, elevation, slope, and aspect using a partial Mantel test and linear regressions. We found that interaction turnover mostly occurred due to simultaneous species turnover of both plant and pollinator communities with host-switching having marginal contribution. Furthermore, interaction turnover occurred across temporal and environmental gradients, with no significant variation across spatial scales. These results differ greatly from inter-annual patterns on the contribution of species turnover vs. host switching, however some results may be due to sampling or scale limitations. It is possible that host switching does not readily occur within-season, but more work is needed for confirmation. Spatial and environmental patterns remain possible, but did not emerge at the extents used herein. This study represents the first instance of the partitioning of interaction turnover into individual species components for a pollination network, and the first to do so intra-annually.




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