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The potential for indirect effects between co-flowering plants via shared pollinators depends on resource abundance, accessibility and relatedness

  • Luisa Gigante Carvalheiro
  • Jacobus Christiaan Biesmeijer
  • Gita Benadi
  • Jochen Fruend
  • Martina Stang
  • Ignasi Bartomeus
  • Christopher N. Kaiser-Bunbury
  • Mathilde Baude
  • Sofia I. F. Gomes
  • Vincent Merckx
  • Katherine C. R. Baldock
  • Andrew T. D. Bennett
  • Ruth Boada
  • Riccardo Bommarco
  • Ralph Cartar
  • Natacha Chacoff
  • Juliana Dänhardt
  • Lynn V. Dicks
  • Carsten F. Dormann
  • Johan Ekroos
  • Kate S. E. Henson
  • Andrea Holzschuh
  • Robert R. Junker
  • Martha Lopezaraiza-Mikel
  • Jane Memmott
  • Ana Montero-Castano
  • Isabel L. Nelson
  • Theodora Petanidou
  • Eileen F. Power
  • Maj Rundlof
  • Henrik Smith
  • Jane C. Stout
  • Kehinde Temitope
  • Teja Tscharntke
  • Thomas Tscheulin
  • Montserrat Vila
  • William E. Kunin
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Pages: 1389-1399
Publication/Series: Ecology Letters
Volume: 17
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Co-flowering plant species commonly share flower visitors, and thus have the potential to influence each other's pollination. In this study we analysed 750 quantitative plant-pollinator networks from 28 studies representing diverse biomes worldwide. We show that the potential for one plant species to influence another indirectly via shared pollinators was greater for plants whose resources were more abundant (higher floral unit number and nectar sugar content) and more accessible. The potential indirect influence was also stronger between phylogenetically closer plant species and was independent of plant geographic origin (native vs. non-native). The positive effect of nectar sugar content and phylogenetic proximity was much more accentuated for bees than for other groups. Consequently, the impact of these factors depends on the pollination mode of plants, e.g. bee or fly pollinated. Our findings may help predict which plant species have the greatest importance in the functioning of plant-pollination networks.


  • Ecology
  • Facilitation
  • floral traits
  • flower density
  • flower resources
  • indirect
  • interactions
  • interspecific competition
  • morphological similarity
  • nectar
  • phylogenetic distance
  • plant-pollinator networks


  • ISSN: 1461-023X
Henrik Smith
E-mail: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56




Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden