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Diverse pollinator communities enhance plant reproductive success

Diverse pollinator communities enhance plant reproductive success

Proceedings. Biological Sciences 279(1748): 4845-4852

Understanding the functional consequences of biodiversity loss is a major goal of ecology. Animal-mediated pollination is an essential ecosystem function and service provided to mankind. However, little is known how pollinator diversity could affect pollination services. Using a substitutive design, we experimentally manipulated functional group (FG) and species richness of pollinator communities to investigate their consequences on the reproductive success of an obligate out-crossing model plant species, Raphanus sativus. Both fruit and seed set increased with pollinator FG richness. Furthermore, seed set increased with species richness in pollinator communities composed of a single FG. However, in multiple-FG communities, highest species richness resulted in slightly reduced pollination services compared with intermediate species richness. Our analysis indicates that the presence of social bees, which showed roughly four times higher visitation rates than solitary bees or hoverflies, was an important factor contributing to the positive pollinator diversity-pollination service relationship, in particular, for fruit set. Visitation rate at different daytimes, and less so among flower heights, varied among social bees, solitary bees and hoverflies, indicating a niche complementarity among these pollinator groups. Our study demonstrates enhanced pollination services of diverse pollinator communities at the plant population level and suggests that both the niche complementarity and the presence of specific taxa in a pollinator community drive this positive relationship.

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Accession: 052672585

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PMID: 23034701

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1621

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