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Data from: Natural habitat loss and exotic plants reduce the functional diversity of flower visitors in a heterogeneous subtropical landscape

Citation

Grass, Ingo; Berens, Dana G.; Farwig, Nina (2015), Data from: Natural habitat loss and exotic plants reduce the functional diversity of flower visitors in a heterogeneous subtropical landscape, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fb96h

Abstract

1. Functional diversity (FD) of pollinators can increase plant reproductive output and the stability of plant-pollinator communities. Yet, in times of worldwide pollinator declines, effects of global change on pollinator FD remain poorly understood. Loss of natural habitat and exotic plant invasions are two major drivers of global change that particularly threaten pollinator diversity. 2. In a subtropical South African landscape, we investigated changes in the FD of flower visitor assemblages on native and exotic plants along gradients of natural habitat loss and relative abundance of exotic plants. We used a dataset of 1434 flower visitor individuals sampled on 131 focal plants and calculated the FD in three flower visitor traits that are strongly related to plant-flower visitor interactions and pollination processes: proboscis length, proboscis diameter and body length. 3. Multivariate FD of flower visitors decreased with both increasing natural habitat loss and relative exotic abundance. Importantly, changes in FD went beyond those in flower visitor richness. Furthermore, flower visitor richness was not related to either natural habitat loss or relative exotic abundance. Loss in multivariate FD seemed to be mediated by complementary reductions of FD in proboscis length with natural habitat loss and of FD in body length with both global change drivers. Correspondingly, we recorded lower abundances of long-tongued flower visitors with natural habitat loss and reduced variance in body size with both drivers. In contrast, FD in proboscis diameter was unaffected by either driver. All effects of the two global change drivers were non-interactive. 4. Our results show that both natural habitat loss and exotic plants negatively affect flower visitor FD, which may imperil pollination of specialised plant species in degraded habitats. In contrast, flower visitor richness may not cover all facets of flower visitor FD that are relevant to pollination processes, and here future studies are needed. Distinct responses of visitor traits to the two drivers suggest limited options to infer relations of one trait to another. Finally, additive effects of natural habitat loss and exotic plant invasions highlight the need to consider multiple drivers of global change when investigating ecosystem processes at a community scale.

Usage Notes

Location

South Africa