Species turnover in plants does not predict turnover in flower-visiting insects
Simaika, J.P.; Samways, M.; Vrdoljak, S.M.
Peerj 6: E6139
ISSN/ISBN: 2167-8359 PMID: 30595988 Accession: 066047800
Congruence between plant and insect diversity is considered possibly useful in conservation planning, as the better known plants could be surrogates for the lesser known insects. There has been little quantification of congruence across space, especially in biodiversity rich areas. We compare here species richness, and turnover relationships between plants and flower-visiting insects across space (0.5-80 km) in natural areas of a biodiversity hotspot, the Greater Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. A total of 22,352 anthophile individuals in 198 species and 348 plant species were sampled. A comparison between the plants and anthophiles suggest significant concordance between the two assemblages. However, turnover was weaker in plants than in anthophiles. Plant turnover decreased with greater geographical distance between plot pairs. In contrast, insect turnover remained high with increasing geographical distance between plot pairs. These findings suggest that while patterns of plant diversity and distribution shape flower-visiting insect assemblages, they are not reliable surrogates. The conservation significance of these results is that specialist mutualisms are at greatest risk, and that set-asides on farms would help improve the functional connectivity leading to the maintenance of the full range of mutualisms.