skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on November 14, 2024

Title: Evaluating the influences of floral traits and pollinator generalism on α and β diversity of heterospecific pollen on stigmas
Abstract

Pollinator sharing often leads to receipt of heterospecific pollen (HP) along with conspecific pollen. As a result, flowering plants can accumulate diverse communities of HP on stigmas. While variation in HP diversity is an important selective force contributing to flowering plant fitness, evolution and community assembly, our understanding of the extent and drivers of heterogeneity of HP diversity is limited.

In this study, we examined the species compositions and abundances of ~1000 HP communities across 59 co‐flowering plant species in three serpentine seep communities in California, USA. We evaluated the variation in HP diversity (γ diversity) across plant species in each seep and asked whether the variation in HP γ diversity was caused by variation in HP diversity within stigmas (α diversity) or HP compositional variation among stigmas (β diversity) due to the replacement of HP species (turnover) or their loss (nestedness) from one stigma to another. We further evaluated the potential drivers of variation in HP α and β diversity using phylogenetic structural equation models.

We found that variation in HP γ diversity across plant species was driven strongly by differences among species in HP α diversity and to a lesser extent by HP β diversity. HP community turnover contributed more to HP β diversity than nestedness consistently across plant species and seeps, suggesting a general pattern of HP compositional heterogeneity from stigma to stigma. The phylogenetic structural equation models further revealed that floral traits (e.g., stigma area, stigma‐anther distance, stigma exposure) and floral abundance were key in determining HP α diversity by influencing HP abundance (load size), while floral traits and abundance showed variable impact on HP β diversity (turnover and nestedness). Pollination generalism contributed relatively less to HP‐α and β diversity.

These findings disentangle the heterogeneity in HP diversity at different levels, which is essential for understanding the process underlying patterns of HP receipt in plant communities. That floral traits drive the heterogeneity in HP diversity points to additional avenues by which HP receipt may contribute to plant evolution.

Read the freePlain Language Summaryfor this article on the Journal blog.

 
more » « less
NSF-PAR ID:
10473973
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley-Blackwell
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Functional Ecology
ISSN:
0269-8463
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The ecological dynamics of co‐flowering communities are largely mediated by pollinators. However, current understanding of pollinator‐mediated interactions primarily relies on how co‐flowering plants influence attraction of shared pollinators, and much less is known about plant–plant interactions that occur via heterospecific pollen (HP) transfer. Invaded communities in particular can be highly affected by the transfer of alien pollen, but the strength, drivers and fitness consequences of these interactions at a community scale are not well understood.

    Here we analyse HP transfer networks in nine coastal communities in the Yucatan Mexico that vary in the relative abundance of invasive flowers to evaluate how HP donation and receipt varies between native and alien plants. We further evaluate whether HP donation and receipt are mediated by floral traits (e.g. display, flower size) or pollinator visitation rate. Finally, we evaluated whether post‐pollination success (proportion of pollen tubes produced) was affected by alien HP receipt and whether the effect varied between native and alien recipients.

    HP transfer networks exhibit relatively high connectance (c. 15%), suggesting high HP transfer within the studied communities. Significant network nestedness further suggests the existence of species that predominantly act as HP donors or recipients in the community. Species‐level analyses showed that natives receive 80% more HP compared to alien species, and that alien plants donate 40% more HP than natives. HP receipt and donation were mediated by different floral traits and such effects were independent of plant origin (native or alien). The proportion of alien HP received significantly affected conspecific pollen tube success in natives, but not that of alien species.

    Synthesis. Our results suggest that HP transfer in invaded communities is widespread, and that native and alien species play different roles within HP transfer networks, which are mediated by a different suite of floral traits. Alien species, in particular, play a central role as HP donors and are more tolerant to HP receipt than natives—a finding that points to two overlooked mechanisms facilitating alien plant invasion and success within native co‐flowering communities.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Human impacts have led to dramatic biodiversity change which can be highly scale‐dependent across space and time. A primary means to manage these changes is via passive (here, the removal of disturbance) or active (management interventions) ecological restoration. The recovery of biodiversity, following the removal of disturbance, is often incomplete relative to some kind of reference target. The magnitude of recovery of ecological systems following disturbance depends on the landscape matrix and many contingent factors. Inferences about recovery after disturbance and biodiversity change depend on the temporal and spatial scales at which biodiversity is measured.

    We measured the recovery of biodiversity and species composition over 33 years in 17 temperate grasslands abandoned after agriculture at different points in time, collectively forming a chronosequence since abandonment from 1 to 80 years. We compare these abandoned sites with known agricultural land‐use histories to never‐disturbed sites as relative benchmarks. We specifically measured aspects of diversity at the local plot‐scale (α‐scale, 0.5 m2) and site‐scale (γ‐scale, 10 m2), as well as the within‐site heterogeneity (β‐diversity) and among‐site variation in species composition (turnover and nestedness).

    At our α‐scale, sites recovering after agricultural abandonment only had 70% of the plant species richness (and ~30% of the evenness), compared to never‐ploughed sites. Within‐site β‐diversity recovered following agricultural abandonment to around 90% after 80 years. This effect, however, was not enough to lead to recovery at our γ‐scale. Richness in recovering sites was ~65% of that in remnant never‐ploughed sites. The presence of species characteristic of the never‐disturbed sites increased in the recovering sites through time. Forb and legume cover declines in years since abandonment, relative to graminoid cover across sites.

    Synthesis.We found that, during the 80 years after agricultural abandonment, old fields did not recover to the level of biodiversity in remnant never‐ploughed sites at any scale. β‐diversity recovered more than α‐scale or γ‐scale. Plant species composition recovered, but not completely, over time, and some species groups increased their cover more than others. Patterns of ecological recovery in degraded ecosystems across space and long time‐scales can inform targeted active restoration interventions and perhaps, lead to better outcomes.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract Background

    Studies that aim to understand the processes that generate and organize plant diversity in nature have a long history in ecology. Among these, the study of plant–plant interactions that take place indirectly via pollinator choice and floral visitation has been paramount. Current evidence, however, indicates that plants can interact more directly via heterospecific pollen (HP) transfer and that these interactions are ubiquitous and can have strong fitness effects. The intensity of HP interactions can also vary spatially, with important implications for floral evolution and community assembly.

    Scope

    Interest in understanding the role of heterospecific pollen transfer in the diversification and organization of plant communities is rapidly rising. The existence of spatial variation in the intensity of species interactions and their role in shaping patterns of diversity is also well recognized. However, after 40 years of research, the importance of spatial variation in HP transfer intensity and effects remains poorly known, and thus we have ignored its potential in shaping patterns of diversity at local and global scales. Here, I develop a conceptual framework and summarize existing evidence for the ecological and evolutionary consequences of spatial variation in HP transfer interactions and outline future directions in this field.

    Conclusions

    The drivers of variation in HP transfer discussed here illustrate the high potential for geographic variation in HP intensity and its effects, as well as in the evolutionary responses to HP receipt. So far, the study of pollinator-mediated plant–plant interactions has been almost entirely dominated by studies of pre-pollination interactions even though their outcomes can be influenced by plant–plant interactions that take place on the stigma. It is hence critical that we fully evaluate the consequences and context-dependency of HP transfer interactions in order to gain a more complete understanding of the role that plant–pollinator interactions play in generating and organizing plant biodiversity.

     
    more » « less
  4. Summary

    Epiphytic microbes frequently affect plant phenotype and fitness, but their effects depend on microbe abundance and community composition. Filtering by plant traits and deterministic dispersal‐mediated processes can affect microbiome assembly, yet their relative contribution to predictable variation in microbiome is poorly understood.

    We compared the effects of host‐plant filtering and dispersal on nectar microbiome presence, abundance, and composition. We inoculated representative bacteria and yeast into 30 plants across four phenotypically distinct cultivars ofEpilobium canum. We compared the growth of inoculated communities to openly visited flowers from a subset of the same plants.

    There was clear evidence of host selection when we inoculated flowers with synthetic communities. However, plants with the highest microbial densities when inoculated did not have the highest microbial densities when openly visited. Instead, plants predictably varied in the presence of bacteria, which was correlated with pollen receipt and floral traits, suggesting a role for deterministic dispersal.

    These findings suggest that host filtering could drive plant microbiome assembly in tissues where species pools are large and dispersal is high. However, deterministic differences in microbial dispersal to hosts may be equally or more important when microbes rely on an animal vector, dispersal is low, or arrival order is important.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Understanding how abiotic disturbance and biotic interactions determine pollinator and flowering‐plant diversity is critically important given global climate change and widespread pollinator declines. To predict responses of pollinators and flowering‐plant communities to changes in wildfire disturbance, a mechanistic understanding of how these two trophic levels respond to wildfire severity is needed.

    We compared site‐to‐site variation in community composition (β‐diversity), species richness and abundances of pollinators and flowering plants among landscapes with no recent wildfire (unburned), mixed‐severity wildfire and high‐severity wildfire in three sites across the Northern Rockies Ecoregion, USA. We used variation partitioning to assess the relative contributions of wildfire, other abiotic variables (climate, soils and topography) and biotic associations among plant and pollinator composition to community assembly of both trophic levels.

    Wildfire disturbance generally increased species richness and total abundance, but decreasedβ‐diversity, of both pollinators and flowering plants. However, reductions inβ‐diversity from wildfire appeared to result from increased abundances following fires, resulting in higher local species richness of pollinators and flowers in burned than unburned landscapes. After accounting for differences in abundance, standardized effect sizes ofβ‐diversity were higher in burned than unburned landscapes, suggesting that wildfire enhances non‐random assortment of pollinator and flowering‐plant species among local communities.

    Wildfire disturbance mediated the relative importance of mutualistic associations toβ‐diversity of pollinators and flowering plants. The influence of pollinatorβ‐diversity on flowering‐plantβ‐diversity increased with wildfire severity, whereas the influence of flowering‐plantβ‐diversity on pollinatorβ‐diversity was greater in mixed‐severity than high‐severity wildfire or unburned landscapes. Moreover, biotic associations among pollinator and plant species explained substantial variation inβ‐diversity of both trophic levels beyond what could be explained by wildfire and all other abiotic and spatial factors combined.

    Synthesis. Wildfire disturbance and plant–pollinator interactions both strongly influenced the assembly of pollinator and flowering‐plant communities at local and regional scales. However, biotic interactions were generally more important drivers of community assembly in disturbed than undisturbed landscapes. As wildfire regimes continue to change globally, predicting its effects on biodiversity will require a deeper understanding of the ecological processes that mediate biotic interactions among linked trophic levels.

     
    more » « less