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Data from: Refuges from fire maintain pollinator-plant interaction networks

Citation

Adedoja, Opeyemi; Dormann, Carsten F.; Kehinde, Temitope; Samways, Michael J. (2019), Data from: Refuges from fire maintain pollinator-plant interaction networks, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.2rd9406

Abstract

Fire is a major disturbance factor in many terrestrial ecosystems, leading to landscape transformation in fire‐prone areas. Species in mutualistic interactions are often highly sensitive to disturbances like fire events, but the degree and complexity of their responses are unclear. We use bipartite insect–flower interaction networks across a recently burned landscape to explore how plant–pollinator interaction networks respond to a recent major fire event at the landscape level, and where fire refuges were present. We also investigate the effectiveness of these refuges at different elevations (valley to hilltop) for the conservation of displaced flower‐visiting insects during fire events. Then, we explore how the degree of specialization of flower‐visiting insects changes across habitats with different levels of fire impact. We did this in natural areas in the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) biodiversity hotspot, which is species rich in plants and pollinators. Bees and beetles were the most frequent pollinators in interactions, followed by wasps and flies. Highest interaction activity was in the fire refuges and least in burned areas. Interactions also tracked flower abundance, which was highest in fire refuges in the valley and lowest in burned areas. Interactions consisted mostly of specialized flower visitors, especially in refuge areas. The interaction network and species specialization were lowest in burned areas. However, species common to at least two fire classes showed no significant difference in species specialization. We conclude that flower‐rich fire refuges sustain plant–pollinator interactions, especially those involving specialized species, in fire‐disturbed landscape. This may be an important shelter for specialized pollinator species at the time that the burned landscape goes through regrowth and succession as part of ecosystem recovery process after a major fire event.

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