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Partitioning wild bee and hoverfly contributions to plant–pollinator network structure in fragmented habitats

Jauker, Frank, Jauker, Birgit, Grass, Ingo, Steffan‐Dewenter, Ingolf, Wolters, Volkmar
Ecology 2019 v.100 no.2 pp. e02569
Syrphidae, asymmetry, bees, chalk grasslands, ecological function, ecosystems, functional diversity, functional properties, habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, insurance, phylogeny, pollinators, risk, species richness
The risk of ecosystem function degradation with biodiversity loss has emerged as a major scientific concern in recent years. Possible relationships between taxonomic diversity and magnitude and stability of ecosystem processes build upon species' functional characteristics, which determine both susceptibility to environmental change and contribution to ecosystem properties. The functional diversity within communities thus provides a potential buffer against environmental disturbance, especially for properties emerging from interactions among species. In complex plant–pollinator networks, distantly related taxa spanning a great trait diversity shape network architecture. Here, we address the question of whether network properties are maintained after habitat loss by complementary contributions of phylogenetically distant pollinator taxa. We quantified contributions of wild bees and hoverflies to network structure (connectance, network specialization, specialization asymmetry) in 32 calcareous grassland fragments varying in size. Although hoverflies are often regarded less susceptible to environmental change than wild bees, species richness of both taxa was similarly affected by habitat loss. The associated loss of 80% of interactions resulted in small and tightly connected networks, which was more strongly attributed to wild bee loss than hoverfly loss. Networks in small fragments were less specialized due to equivalent losses of species and interactions in both pollinators and plants. Because wild bee and hoverfly loss contributed similarly to declining network specialization, we conclude that trait diversity among distantly related pollinators does not necessarily provide insurance against functional homogenization during community disassembly following habitat loss.