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Exotic plants promote pollination niche overlap in an agroecosystem

Marrero, Hugo J., Torretta, Juan P., Vázquez, Diego P., Hodara, Karina, Medan, Diego
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2017 v.239 pp. 304-309
agricultural land, agroecosystems, indigenous species, intensive farming, introduced plants, land management, landscapes, models, pollen, pollen flow, pollinators, Argentina, Pampas region
Agricultural land management modifies ecosystem structure and functioning in natural landscapes. Pollinators are a key functional group that may suffer from such intensification. Here we evaluate how agricultural land management influences the diversity of pollen transported by pollinators and the pollination niche overlap among plants. We described pollen transport networks (which allow assessing the contribution of pollinators to the flow of pollen among plants) in agricultural and restored fragments in three sites representative of the pampas region of Argentina. We analyzed diversity of pollen transported by pollinators and the pollination niche overlap among plants in both types of fragments with general and generalized linear mixed models. The agricultural fragments were associated to increased diversity of transported pollen and pollination niche overlap among plants. Greater pollination niche overlap in agricultural fragments was associated with increased abundance of exotic plants. Our results indicate that agricultural intensification has significantly increased the diversity of pollen and the pollination niche overlap in natural communities by promoting exotic plants and generalized plant-pollinator interactions. Strategies to encourage improvements in the quality of pollination in agroecosystems could range from controlling the levels of exotic species to mechanisms that promote increased diversity of native plants.