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Opportunistic attachment assembles plant-pollinator networks

Ecology Letters

Abstract

Species and interactions are being lost at alarming rates and it is imperative to understand how communities assemble if we have to prevent their collapse and restore lost interactions. Using an 8-year dataset comprising nearly 20 000 pollinator visitation records, we explore the assembly of plant-pollinator communities at native plant restoration sites in an agricultural landscape. We find that species occupy highly dynamic network positions through time, causing the assembly process to be punctuated by major network reorganisations. The most persistent pollinator species are also the most variable in their network positions, contrary to what preferential attachment the most widely studied theory of ecological network assembly - predicts. Instead, we suggest assembly occurs via an opportunistic attachment process. Our results contribute to our understanding of how communities assembly and how species interactions change through time while helping to inform efforts to reassemble robust communities.

Author(s): Ponisio, LC; Gaiarsa, MP; Kremen, C

Journal: Ecology Letters

Year: 2017

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