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How does timing of flowering affect competition for pollinators, flower visitation and seed set in an early spring grassland plant?

Citation

Kehrberger, Sandra; Holzschuh, Andrea (2019), How does timing of flowering affect competition for pollinators, flower visitation and seed set in an early spring grassland plant?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4b8gtht7t

Abstract

Knowledge on how the timing of flowering is related to plant fitness and species interactions is crucial to understand consequences of phenological shifts as they occur under climate change. Early flowering plants may face advantages of low competition for pollinators and disadvantages of low pollinator abundances and unfavourable weather conditions. However, it is unknown how this trade-off changes over the season and how the timing affects reproductive success. On eight grasslands we recorded intra-seasonal changes in pollinators, co-flowering plants, weather conditions, flower visitation rates, floral longevity and seed set of Pulsatilla vulgaris. Although bee abundances and the number of pollinator-suitable hours were low at the beginning of the season, early flowers of P. vulgaris received higher flower visitation rates and estimated total number of bee visits than later flowers, which was positively related to seed set. Flower visitation rates decreased over time and with increasing number of co-flowering plants, which competed with P. vulgaris for pollinators. Low interspecific competition for pollinators seems to be a major driver for early flowering dates. Thus, non-synchronous temporal shifts of co-flowering plants as they may occur under climate warming can be expected to strongly affect plant-pollinator interactions and the fitness of the involved plants.

Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Award: SFB 1047 ‘Insect timing’