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Linking species-level network metrics to flower traits and plant fitness

Citation

Lázaro, Amparo et al. (2019), Linking species-level network metrics to flower traits and plant fitness, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hqbzkh1bm

Abstract

1. Theoretical models indicate that the structure of plant-pollinator networks has important implications for species’ reproduction and survival. However, despite the growing information on the mechanisms underlying such structure, we are still far from being able to predict the functional consequences of species’ structural positions in such networks. From the plants’ perspective, species position and roles in pollination networks might be related to traits describing flower attractiveness, availability, and dependence on pollinators. In turn, both, network metrics and species traits might influence plant fitness. 2. During two field seasons, we collected data of the 23 most abundant plant species from a rich coastal community in order to evaluate the association between population and floral traits (floral abundance at the population level and flowers/individual, flower shape and size, flowering length, nectar volume, pollinator dependence), species-level network metrics (linkage level, specialization –d’–, weighted closeness centrality, network roles related to modularity) and plant fitness (seeds/flower, seed weight). 3. Flowering length, flower size, flower abundance and pollinator dependence were positively related to increased generalization, as measured with different indices. More abundant species and those with larger flowers showed higher linkage levels (i.e. higher number of pollinator species), whereas longer flowering periods were negatively related to d’ and positively related to closeness centrality and important roles in the network. Likewise, plants more dependent on pollinators occupied more central positions in the network. Furthermore, species’ centrality in the networks was significantly associated with plant fitness. Specifically, central species in the network produced more and heavier seeds than the others. However, other plant traits, such as flower size and pollinator dependence had additional direct effects on seed production. 4. Synthesis. Our study highlights how population and floral traits define the positions and roles of species structuring the pollination communities. Moreover, the relationships between network metrics and plant reproduction indicate, for the first time, the functional implications of these structural positions at the inter-specific level of community assembly.