Plant-pollinator Networks are Resilient to Environmental Changes

Garden scientists learn that flexible plant-pollinator networks are resilient to environmental changes. Despite the regularity of the changing seasons, scientists know much less about the seasonality of interactions between organisms, such as the networks among plants and pollinators. New research conducted by Garden scientist, Paul CaraDonna, PhD, shows that networks of interactions between plants and pollinators shift dramatically with the changing seasons. Research identified which pollinators visited each plant species all season long in three years in a subalpine ecosystem in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Dr. CaraDonna’s research illustrates the inherent flexibility in these interaction networks—flexibility that allows the plants and pollinators to withstand all sorts of environmental threats. Dr. CaraDonna’s research provides important clues that will help conserve plants and pollinators. In particular, this work helps to identify times of the season when certain plants and pollinators may be most vulnerable to environmental disturbances.

“All of the flexibility we observed within these interaction networks clearly shows that plants and pollinators can roll with the punches of climate change and environmental disturbances. But perhaps more important, understanding all of this temporal flexibility can help us identify when certain species are most vulnerable.”

This work was recently published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Oikos. The article is available here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/oik.07526

research conducted in subalpine ecosystem in the Colorado Rocky Mountains