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Plant generalization on pollinators: species property or local phenomenon?

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
American Journal of Botany
0002-9122
Publisher
Botanical Society of America
Publication Date
Volume
92
Issue
1
Pages
13–20
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3732/ajb.92.1.13
PMID: 21652379
Source
Medline

Abstract

Despite recent increased interest in the frequency and evolutionary consequences of generalization in plant-pollinator systems, little is known on whether plant generalization on pollinators actually is a species-level trait. This paper addresses the following questions for the insect-pollinated shrub Lavandula latifolia: (1) Are different populations of this pollinator-generalist plant similarly generalized? (2) Within a highly generalized population, are all plants similarly pollinator-generalists? Comparable values for richness in pollinator species were obtained from individual- or population-specific rarefaction curves as the projected number of distinct pollinator species implicated in 100 flower visits (S(RAR100)). Simple counts of pollinator species recorded per individual or population (S(OBS)) were weakly or nonsignificantly correlated with corresponding S(RAR100) figures and closely correlated with flower visitation frequency. The pollination system of L. latifolia was highly generalized at the regional level, but populations differed greatly in pollinator species richness (S(RAR100)). Within the population intensively studied, individual plants had quite variable degrees of generalization, comparable in magnitude to variation among populations. It is concluded that generalization was not an invariant, species-level property in L. latifolia. Furthermore, pollinator diversity estimates based on S(OBS) data may be heavily contingent on aspects related to both research design (sampling effort) and biological phenomena (variation in pollinator abundance or visitation rates), which may either mask or distort underlying ecological patterns of interest.

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