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Contrasting Partners' Traits of Generalized and Specialized Species in Flower-Visitation Networks

AutorCastro-Urgal, Rocío ; Traveset, Anna
Fecha de publicación3-mar-2016
EditorPublic Library of Science
CitaciónPLoS ONE 11(3):e0150824 (2016)
ResumenMuch ecological research has focused on trying to understand why species are generalized or specialized in their interactions and how networks develop in a certain environment. It is now well known that traits such as phenology and abundance of a species are important determinants of its generalization level (i.e., number of different interactions or links to other species). Less information is available, however, on whether generalized and specialized species differ in particular traits of their interacting partners. Such partners might differ, for instance, in abundance and/or in the diversity of functional groups they belong to. Moreover, species might exhibit shifts through time (e.g., flowering season) in their partners' traits, though we know close to nothing on whether these changes do indeed occur. Assessing how such network links in both types of species are established is important for a better understanding of how different types of disturbance can affect community dynamics. Using data from four quantitative flower-visitation networks and independent measures of flower availability obtained when recording interactions, we test for such differences between species which have been previously categorized according to two specialization indexes: (1) number of partners (links), also named linkage level; this is a qualitative index and (2) complementary specialization d', named here selectiveness level; this is a quantitative index. We found that: (1) species with low linkage levels mainly interact with common species in the community whereas generalized species interact with a greater heterogeneity of partner's abundances and functional richness, (2) both selective and opportunistic species (with high and low d', respectively) interact with a similarly high functional richness (number of functional groups or families) of partners, and (3) generalized species are the only ones showing shifts along the season in their partners' traits, driven by changes in community species composition. The risk of extinction in front of a disturbance is generally expected to be highest for specialized species (with few partners) and selective species (which visit non-abundant or scarce partners). However, our findings show that by linking to abundant and/or to functionally diverse partners, respectively, these species may be maintained in the community and be less vulnerable to disturbances.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150824
Identificadoresdoi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150824
issn: 1932-6203
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