Journal article Open Access

Competition, trait–mediated facilitation, and the structure of plant–pollinator communities

Revilla T. A.; Křivan V.

In plant–pollinator communities many pollinators are potential generalists and their preferences for certain plants can change quickly in response to changes in plant and pollinator densities. These changes in preferences affect coexistence within pollinator guilds as well as within plant guilds. Using a mathematical model, we study how adaptations of pollinator preferences influence population dynamics of a two-plant–two-pollinator community interaction module. Adaptation leads to coexistence between generalist and specialist pollinators, and produces complex plant population dynamics, involving alternative stable states and discrete transitions in the plant community. Pollinator adaptation also leads to plant–plant apparent facilitation that is mediated by changes in pollinator preferences. We show that adaptive pollinator behavior reduces niche overlap and leads to coexistence by specialization on different plants. Thus, this article documents how adaptive pollinator preferences for plants change the structure and coexistence of plant–pollinator communities.

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