Global warming and the disruption of plant-pollinator interactions

Memmott, Jane, Craze, Paul G, Waser, Nickolas M and Price, Mary V (2007) Global warming and the disruption of plant-pollinator interactions. Ecology Letters, 10 (8). 710 - 717. ISSN 1461-023X

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Abstract

Anthropogenic climate change is widely expected to drive species extinct by hampering individual survival and reproduction, by reducing the amount and accessibility of suitable habitat, or by eliminating other organisms that are essential to the species in question. Less well appreciated is the likelihood that climate change will directly disrupt or eliminate mutually beneficial (mutualistic) ecological interactions between species even before extinctions occur. We explored the potential disruption of a ubiquitous mutualistic interaction of terrestrial habitats, that between plants and their animal pollinators, via climate change. We used a highly resolved empirical network of interactions between 1420 pollinator and 429 plant species to simulate consequences of the phenological shifts that can be expected with a doubling of atmospheric CO2. Depending on model assumptions, phenological shifts reduced the floral resources available to 1750% of all pollinator species, causing as much as half of the ancestral activity period of the animals to fall at times when no food plants were available. Reduced overlap between plants and pollinators also decreased diet breadth of the pollinators. The predicted result of these disruptions is the extinction of pollinators, plants and their crucial interactions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Conceived, wrote and ran programs that shifted phenologies and calculated the consequences. Wrote supplimentary methods. Wrote sections of manuscript relating the study to evolution. The study unusually uses a large, historical data set to address a neglected aspect of climate change and would have been impossible without computational methods.
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Paul Craze
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:04
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2012 11:21
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23894
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