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Stable pollination service in a generalist High Arctic community despite the warming climate

Cirtwill, Alyssa; Kaartinen, Riikka; Rasmussen, Claus; Redr, Deanne; Wirta, Helena; Olesen, Jens; Tiusanen, Mikko; Ballantyne, Gavin; Cunnold, Helen; Stone, Graham; Martin Schmidt, Niels; Roslin, Tomas


Alyssa Cirtwill

Riikka Kaartinen

Claus Rasmussen

Deanne Redr

Helena Wirta

Jens Olesen

Mikko Tiusanen

Helen Cunnold

Graham Stone

Niels Martin Schmidt

Tomas Roslin


Insects provide key pollination services in most terrestrial biomes, but this service depends on a multi-step interaction between insect and plant. An insect needs to visit a flower, receive pollen from the anthers, move to another conspecific flower, and finally deposit the pollen on a receptive stigma. Each of these steps may be affected by climate change, and focusing on only one of them (e.g., flower visitation) may miss important signals of change in service provision. In this study, we combine data on visitation, pollen transport, and single-visit pollen deposition to estimate functional outcomes in the high-Arctic plant-pollinator network of Zackenberg, Northeast Greenland, a model system for global warming-associated impacts in pollination services. Over two decades of rapid climate warming, we sampled the network repeatedly: in 1996, 1997, 2010, 2011 and 2016. While the flowering plant and insect communities and their interactions varied substantially between years, as expected based on highly variable Arctic weather, there was no detectable directional change in either the structure of flower-visitor networks or estimated pollen deposition. For flower-visitor networks compiled over a single week, species phenologies caused major within-year variation in network structure despite consistency across years. Weekly networks for the middle of the flowering season emerged as especially important, as most pollination service can be expected to be provided by these large, highly-nested networks. Our findings suggest that pollination ecosystem service in the High Arctic is remarkably resilient. This resilience may reflect the plasticity of Arctic biota as an adaptation to extreme and unpredictable weather. However, most pollination service was contributed by relatively few fly taxa (Diptera: Spilogona sanctipauli and Drymeia segnis [Muscidae] and species of Rhamphomyia [Empididae]). If these key pollinators are negatively affected by climate change, network structure and the pollination service that depends on it would be seriously compromised.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 14, 2022
Publication Date 2023-02
Deposit Date Aug 16, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 16, 2022
Journal Ecological Monographs
Print ISSN 0012-9615
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 93
Issue 1
Article Number e1551
Keywords flower visitor, phenology, pollen transport, pollen deposition, Dryas, Diptera
Public URL


Stable Pollination Service In A Generalist High Arctic Community Despite The Warming Climate (accepted version) (1 Mb)

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