Title

Pollinators Contribute to the Maintenance of Flowering Plant Diversity

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-30-2021

Description

Mechanisms that favour rare species are key to the maintenance of diverse communities1–3. One of the most critical tasks for conservation of flowering plant biodiversity is to understand how plant–pollinator interactions contribute to the maintenance of rare species4–7. Here we show that niche partitioning in pollinator use and asymmetric facilitation confer fitness advantage of rarer species in a biodiversity hotspot using phylogenetic structural equation modelling that integrates plant–pollinator and interspecific pollen transfer networks with floral functional traits. Co-flowering species filtered pollinators via floral traits, and rarer species showed greater pollinator specialization leading to higher pollination-mediated male and female fitness than more abundant species. When plants shared pollinator resources, asymmetric facilitation via pollen transport dynamics benefitted the rarer species at the cost of more abundant species, serving as an alternative diversity-promoting mechanism. Our results emphasize the importance of community-wide plant–pollinator interactions that affect reproduction for biodiversity maintenance.

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