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Disentangling the role of floral sensory stimuli in pollination networks

Mon, 04/02/2018

Despite progress in understanding pollination network structure, the functional roles of floral sensory stimuli (visual, olfactory) have never been addressed comprehensively in a community context, even though such traits are known to mediate plant–pollinator interactions. Here, we use a comprehensive dataset of floral traits and a novel dynamic data-pooling methodology to explore the impacts of floral sensory diversity on the structure of a pollination network in a Mediterranean scrubland. Our approach tracks transitions in the network behaviour of each plant species throughout its flowering period and, despite dynamism in visitor composition, reveals significant links to floral scent, and/or colour as perceived by pollinators. Having accounted for floral phenology, abundance and phylogeny, the persistent association between floral sensory traits and visitor guilds supports a deeper role for sensory bias and diffuse coevolution in structuring plant–pollinator networks. This knowledge of floral sensory diversity, by identifying the most influential phenotypes, could help prioritize efforts for plant–pollinator community restoration.

Disentangling the role of floral sensory stimuli in pollination networks. 2018
A Kantsa, RA Raguso, AG Dyer, JM Olesen, T Tscheulin, T Petanidou; Nature communications 9 (1), 1041