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  1. Bouharroud, Rachid (Ed.)
    Most terrestrial angiosperms form mutualisms with both mycorrhizal fungi and animal pollinators. Yet, the effects of mycorrhizae on pollinator behavior and plant reproduction are unknown for most species, and whether the source or type of mycorrhizal fungi affects reproductive success has rarely been examined. We examined whether inoculating highbush blueberry ( Vaccinium corymbosum ; Ericaceae) with ericoid mycorrhizal fungi enhanced investment in flowering and attractiveness to pollinators, and thus reduced their levels of pollen limitation over that of non-inoculated plants. We also examined the degree to which pollen limitation was dependent on inoculation source and the surrounding pollinator community context. Three-year-old saplings of Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Bluecrop’ or highbush blueberry (Ericaceae) were inoculated with a) ericoid mycorrhizal fungi within soil of the rhizosphere of plants growing at a local blueberry farm, b) a commercially available ericoid inoculant, c) both the local soils and commercial inoculum, or d) were not inoculated and served as controls. They were grown for one year in pots in a common garden and, in the following year, were moved to six farms in central Vermont that were known from prior studies to differ in pollinator abundance and diversity. We conducted a hand pollination experiment at each farm to examine if inoculation or pollinator abundance (i.e., farm context) affected reproductive success. Plants treated with all types of inoculums were more likely to flower, and produced more inflorescence buds than non-inoculated plants in 2018. However, in 2019, plants in the combination inoculum treatment, alone, produced more inflorescence buds than those in the other treatments. Neither the source of inoculum nor hand pollination affected fruit set (the proportion of flowers setting fruit), or fruit sugar content. Hand pollination, but not inoculation, increased berry mass and the average number of seeds produced/berry. Our results add to the growing body of evidence that mycorrhizal fungi can affect reproductive traits of their hosts but that the effects of mycorrhizal fungi depend on the mycorrhizal symbionts. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 19, 2024
  2. The timing of life events (phenology) can be influenced by climate. Studies from around the world tell us that climate cues and species' responses can vary greatly. If variation in climate effects on phenology is strong within a single ecosystem, climate change could lead to ecological disruption, but detailed data from diverse taxa within a single ecosystem are rare. We collated first sighting and median activity within a high-elevation environment for plants, insects, birds, mammals and an amphibian across 45 years (1975–2020). We related 10 812 phenological events to climate data to determine the relative importance of climate effects on species’ phenologies. We demonstrate significant variation in climate-phenology linkage across taxa in a single ecosystem. Both current and prior climate predicted changes in phenology. Taxa responded to some cues similarly, such as snowmelt date and spring temperatures; other cues affected phenology differently. For example, prior summer precipitation had no effect on most plants, delayed first activity of some insects, but advanced activity of the amphibian, some mammals, and birds. Comparing phenological responses of taxa at a single location, we find that important cues often differ among taxa, suggesting that changes to climate may disrupt synchrony of timing among taxa. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 11, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Climate change can impact plant fitness and population persistence directly through changing abiotic conditions and indirectly through its effects on species interactions. Pollination and seed predation are important biotic interactions that can impact plant fitness, but their impact on population growth rates relative to the role of direct climatic effects is unknown.

    We combined 13 years of experiments on pollen limitation of seed set and pre‐dispersal seed predation inIpomopsis aggregata, a subalpine wildflower, with a long‐term demographic study that has documented declining population growth with earlier spring snowmelt date. We determined how pollen limitation and seed predation changed with snowmelt date over 21 years and incorporated those effects into an integral projection model to assess relative impacts of biotic factors on population growth.

    Both pollen limitation and the difference in stigma pollen load between pollen‐supplemented and control plants declined over years. Neither pollen limitation nor seed predation changed detectably with snowmelt date, suggesting an absence of indirect effects of that specific abiotic factor on these indices of biotic interactions. The projected biotic impacts of pollen limitation and seed predation on population growth rate were small compared to factors associated with snowmelt date. Providing full pollination would delay the projected date when earlier snowmelt will cause populations to fall below replacement by only 14 years.

    Synthesis. Full pollination and elimination of seed predation would not compensate for the strong detrimental effects of early snowmelt on population growth rate, which inI. aggregataappears driven largely by abiotic environmental factors. The reduction over two decades in pollen limitation also suggests that natural selection on floral traits may weaken with continued climate change. These results highlight the value of studying both abiotic factors and biotic interactions to understand how climate change will influence plant populations.

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