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Title: Spatial variation in bidirectional pollinator-mediated interactions between two co-flowering species in serpentine plant communities
Abstract Pollinator-mediated competition and facilitation are two important mechanisms mediating co-flowering community assembly. Experimental studies, however, have mostly focused on evaluating outcomes for a single interacting partner at a single location. Studies that evaluate spatial variation in the bidirectional effects between co-flowering species are necessary if we aim to advance our understanding of the processes that mediate species coexistence in diverse co-flowering communities. Here, we examine geographic variation (i.e. at landscape level) in bidirectional pollinator-mediated effects between co-flowering Mimulus guttatus and Delphinium uliginosum. We evaluated effects on pollen transfer dynamics (conspecific and heterospecific pollen deposition) and plant reproductive success. We found evidence of asymmetrical effects (one species is disrupted and the other one is facilitated) but the effects were highly dependent on geographical location. Furthermore, effects on pollen transfer dynamics did not always translate to effects on overall plant reproductive success (i.e. pollen tube growth) highlighting the importance of evaluating effects at multiple stages of the pollination process. Overall, our results provide evidence of a spatial mosaic of pollinator-mediated interactions between co-flowering species and suggest that community assembly processes could result from competition and facilitation acting simultaneously. Our study highlights the importance of experimental studies that evaluate the prevalence of competitive and facilitative interactions in the field, and that expand across a wide geographical context, in order to more fully understand the mechanisms that shape plant communities in nature.  more » « less
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Boege, Karina
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National Science Foundation
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