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Population dependence in the interactions with neighbors for pollination: A field experiment with Taraxacum officinale

Lázaro, Amparo, Totland, Ørjan
American journal of botany 2010 v.97 no.5 pp. 760-769
Salvia, Tagetes, Taraxacum officinale, field experimentation, foraging, honey bees, inflorescences, neighborhoods, pollination, pollinators, population density
Premise of the study. The fitness of plants depends on their immediate biotic and abiotic environmental surroundings. The floral neighborhood of individual plants is part of this immediate environment and affects the frequency and behavior of their pollinators. However, the interactions among plants for pollination might differ among populations because populations differ in floral densities and pollinator assemblages. Despite that, manipulative experiments of the floral neighborhood in different populations with a specific focus on pollinator behavior are still rare. METHODS: We introduced mixtures of two species (Salvia farinacae and Tagetes bonanza) in two populations of Taraxacum officinale and examined their effect on pollinators' foraging behavior on TARAXACUM: Key results. The effects of the heterospecific neighborhood differed among pollinator groups and between the two populations. Only honeybees consistently preferred both the most diverse (containing three species) and completely pure patches of Taraxacum in both populations. We found a strong and positive effect of patch diversity on visitation to Taraxacum in one population, whereas in the other population either no effect or a negative effect of plant diversity occurred, which we attribute to differences between populations in the ratio of pollinators to inflorescences. Pollinator visitation consistently increased with local Taraxacum density in both populations. CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that a similar local neighborhood can differentially affect the frequency and foraging behavior of pollinators, even in closely situated populations. Experimental studies conducted in several populations would contribute to determine which factors drive the variation in pollination interactions among populations.