Some plants and pollinators relate to each other more frequently than to other species in the same environment. Up to now, this has led us to believe that these relations were more stable in the face of climatic change. However, the results of a study, conducted by researchers from the Rey Juan Carlos University and the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies, reveal that disturbances in flowering periods could affect the relationship between species.
Scientists have been able to verify that the differences in interactions between plants and pollinators throughout the flowering season are caused mainly by the replacement of species. Also, among the conclusions of the study, the temporal variation in which the biological cycles of the species develop is a determining factor when it comes to shaping the relationships between plants and their pollinators.
Seemingly stable pollination relationships may be more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought
“The results obtained in the research highlight the importance of considering the temporal variation of the interactions of the species throughout the flowering season and the need for a temporal analysis when it comes to an understanding the ecological functions of the interactions,” underlines Jose Maria Iriondo, a researcher who participated in the study.
The research was published in Scientific Reports and analyses the temporal dynamics of the relationship between plants and pollinating insects in a Mediterranean alpine community during a full flowering season, between June to August.
The study also reviewed the changes in species diversity and differences in interactions between plants and pollinators over time.
Plants and pollinators connection close to breaking due to climate change
The strong connection between the structure of the interactions and the temporal variation in which the biological cycles of the species develop poses a greater risk to the community the researchers have studied in a climate change scenario.
In fact, “this could imply the breaking of very close relationships between certain plants and insects that have their cycles coupled to current climatic conditions,” warns the study’s leading author, Javier Morente. “This close relationship could be decoupled with negative effects on the viability of the species,” he added.
Therefore, the results of this research determine that pollination relationships formed in apparently stable structures may be more vulnerable to climate change than was generally thought.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.