Plant-pollinator interactions: Diurnal and nocturnal pollinators

In tropical ecosystems, the vast majority of flowering plant species relies on animals for pollination. As major pollen transfer agents, pollinators ensure seed production of an estimated 98% of tropical plant species. In turn, they obtain valuable resources, such as pollen, nectar or floral oils, which are essential for their fitness. The mutualistic relationship between these pollinators and zoophilous plants results in complex interaction networks.
The composition and diversity of tropical plant and pollinator communities as well as their interaction patterns can be severely altered by disturbance, such as intensive logging or deforestation. As a consequence, pollination stability decreases, likely through the disruption of the underlying mutualistic interactions. Yet surprisingly little is known on the resilience and recovery of tropical plant-pollinator networks (and resulting processes).
We want to fill this gap by exploring recovery trajectories and dynamics of plant-pollinator networks along a forest recovery gradient. We will also investigate the role of different traits within and between pollinator guilds to better understand underlying trait-rules. We focus on diurnal bees and nocturnal moths and will explore pollen-based interaction networks using DNA-metabarcoding of pollen collected from insect bodies sampled in both the understory and canopy.

This project is part of a large research group (FOR 5207) coordinated by Prof. Nico Blüthgen (TU Darmstadt): Reassembly