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Data from: Nectar robbing impacts pollinator behavior but not plant reproduction


Hazlehurst, Jenny A.; Karubian, Jordan O. (2016), Data from: Nectar robbing impacts pollinator behavior but not plant reproduction, Dryad, Dataset,


Trait-mediated indirect effects (TMIEs) refer to interactions in which the effect of one species on another is mediated by the behavior of a third species. A mechanistic approach that identifies the direction and impact of TMIEs can shed light on why different net outcomes are observed in the same general phenomena across systems. Nectar robbing has variable net effects through TMIEs on animal-pollinated plants across systems, but the mechanistic steps underlying this range of outcomes are often unclear. To address this knowledge gap, we assessed linkages between nectar robbing, pollinator behavior and plant reproductive success in the Andean tree, Oreocallis grandiflora. We found that robbing in this system led to lower nectar volumes, higher nectar sucrose concentration, and higher nectar viscosity, which together negatively impact nectar quality. This drop in nectar quality was associated with decreased visitation rates by hummingbirds, which might be expected to impact plant reproduction negatively by pollen limitation. However, it was also associated with increased diversity (Shannon's) and evenness in the pollinator community due to reduced visitation by a territorial hummingbird, which might be expected to impact reproduction positively via enhanced genetic diversity of pollen as non-territorial pollinators forage over greater areas. We measured seed set and mass to distinguish the relative intensity of these two possible outcomes, but found no detectable effect. We tentatively conclude that these two consequences of TMIEs may have balanced each other out to yield a neutral net effect of nectar robbing on plant reproduction, though other explanations are also possible. This study highlights ways in which ecologically important TMIEs may act in opposing directions to mask important ecological forces, and underscores the continued need for detailed study of the mechanisms through which TMIEs operate.

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