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Variable flowering phenology and pollinator use in a community suggest future phenological mismatch


TitleVariable flowering phenology and pollinator use in a community suggest future phenological mismatch
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsPetanidou T, Kallimanis AS, Sgardelis SP, Mazaris AD, Pantis JD, Waser NM
JournalActa Oecologica
Volume59
Pagination104-111
Keywordsadaptation, anthropogenic effect, bee, Bees, Climate Change, Ecological modeling, flowering, Flowering duration, Flowering onset, life history, Mediterranean ecosystems, Mediterranean Region, Phenology, plant-pollinator interaction, Pollination, Reproductive success, Specialization, species richness
Abstract

Recent anthropogenic climate change is strongly associated with average shifts toward earlier seasonal timing of activity (phenology) in temperate-zone species. Shifts in phenology have the potential to alter ecological interactions, to the detriment of one or more interacting species. Recent models predict that detrimental phenological mismatch may increasingly occur between plants and their pollinators. One way to test this prediction is to examine data from ecological communities that experience large annual weather fluctuations. Taking this approach, we analyzed interactions over a four-year period among 132 plant species and 665 pollinating insect species within a Mediterranean community. For each plant species we recorded onset and duration of flowering and number of pollinator species. Flowering onset varied among years, and a year of earlier flowering of a species tended to be a year of fewer species pollinating its flowers. This relationship was attributable principally to early-flowering species, suggesting that shifts toward earlier phenology driven by climate change may reduce pollination services due to phenological mismatch. Earlier flowering onset of a species also was associated with prolonged flowering duration, but it is not certain that this will counterbalance any negative effects of lower pollinator species richness on plant reproductive success. Among plants with different life histories, annuals were more severely affected by flowering-pollinator mismatches than perennials. Specialized plant species (those attracting a smaller number of pollinator species) did not experience disproportionate interannual fluctuations in phenology. Thus they do not appear to be faced with disproportionate fluctuations in pollinator species richness, contrary to the expectation that specialists are at greatest risk of losing mutualistic interactions because of climate change. © 2014 Elsevier Masson SAS.