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Proc Biol Sci. 2013 Dec 18;281(1776):20132437. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2437. Print 2014 Feb 7.

Adaptive foraging behaviour of individual pollinators and the coexistence of co-flowering plants.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, Stanford University, , Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Abstract

Although pollinators can play a central role in determining the structure and stability of plant communities, little is known about how their adaptive foraging behaviours at the individual level, e.g. flower constancy, structure these interactions. Here, we construct a mathematical model that integrates individual adaptive foraging behaviour and population dynamics of a community consisting of two plant species and a pollinator species. We find that adaptive foraging at the individual level, as a complementary mechanism to adaptive foraging at the species level, can further enhance the coexistence of plant species through niche partitioning between conspecific pollinators. The stabilizing effect is stronger than that of unbiased generalists when there is also strong competition between plant species over other resources, but less so than that of multiple specialist species. This suggests that adaptive foraging in mutualistic interactions can have a very different impact on the plant community structure from that in predator-prey interactions. In addition, the adaptive behaviour of individual pollinators may cause a sharp regime shift for invading plant species. These results indicate the importance of integrating individual adaptive behaviour and population dynamics for the conservation of native plant communities.

KEYWORDS:

adaptive foraging; flower constancy; mutualism; plant species coexistence; population dynamics

PMID:
24352943
PMCID:
PMC3871311
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2013.2437
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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