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Population dynamics of plant and pollinator communities: stability reconsidered.

Benadi, Gita and Blüthgen, Nico and Hovestadt, Thomas and Poethke, Hans-Joachim (2012):
Population dynamics of plant and pollinator communities: stability reconsidered.
179, In: The American naturalist, (2), pp. 157-68, ISSN 1537-5323, [Online-Edition: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/663685],
[Article]

Abstract

Plant-pollinator networks are systems of outstanding ecological and economic importance. A particularly intriguing aspect of these systems is their high diversity. However, earlier studies have concluded that the specific mechanisms of plant-pollinator interactions are destabilizing and should lead to a loss of diversity. Here we present a mechanistic model of plant and pollinator population dynamics with the ability to represent a broad spectrum of interaction structures. Using this model, we examined the influence of pollinators on the stability of a plant community and the relationship between pollinator specialization and stability. In accordance with earlier work, our results show that plant-pollinator interactions may severely destabilize plant coexistence, regardless of the degree of pollinator specialization. However, if plant niche differentiation, a classical stabilizing mechanism, is sufficiently strong to overcome the minority disadvantage with respect to pollination, interactions with pollinators may even increase the stability of a plant community. In addition to plant niche differentiation, the relationship between specialization and stability depends on a number of parameters that affect pollinator growth rates. Our results highlight the complex effects of this particular type of mutualism on community stability and call for further investigations of the mechanisms of diversity maintenance in plant-pollinator systems.

Item Type: Article
Erschienen: 2012
Creators: Benadi, Gita and Blüthgen, Nico and Hovestadt, Thomas and Poethke, Hans-Joachim
Title: Population dynamics of plant and pollinator communities: stability reconsidered.
Language: English
Abstract:

Plant-pollinator networks are systems of outstanding ecological and economic importance. A particularly intriguing aspect of these systems is their high diversity. However, earlier studies have concluded that the specific mechanisms of plant-pollinator interactions are destabilizing and should lead to a loss of diversity. Here we present a mechanistic model of plant and pollinator population dynamics with the ability to represent a broad spectrum of interaction structures. Using this model, we examined the influence of pollinators on the stability of a plant community and the relationship between pollinator specialization and stability. In accordance with earlier work, our results show that plant-pollinator interactions may severely destabilize plant coexistence, regardless of the degree of pollinator specialization. However, if plant niche differentiation, a classical stabilizing mechanism, is sufficiently strong to overcome the minority disadvantage with respect to pollination, interactions with pollinators may even increase the stability of a plant community. In addition to plant niche differentiation, the relationship between specialization and stability depends on a number of parameters that affect pollinator growth rates. Our results highlight the complex effects of this particular type of mutualism on community stability and call for further investigations of the mechanisms of diversity maintenance in plant-pollinator systems.

Journal or Publication Title: The American naturalist
Volume: 179
Number: 2
Divisions: 10 Department of Biology
10 Department of Biology > Synthetic Ecological Networks
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2013 10:32
Official URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/663685
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