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Constructing more informative plant–pollinator networks: visitation and pollen deposition networks in a heathland plant community

Ballantyne, G; Baldock, Katherine C R; Willmer, P G


Katherine C R Baldock

P G Willmer


Interaction networks are widely used as tools to understand plant–pollinator communities, and to examine potential threats to plant diversity and food security if the ecosystem service provided by pollinating animals declines. However, most networks to date are based on recording visits to flowers, rather than recording clearly defined effective pollination events. Here we provide the first networks that explicitly incorporate measures of pollinator effectiveness (PE) from pollen deposition on stigmas per visit, and pollinator importance (PI) as the product of PE and visit frequency. These more informative networks, here produced for a low diversity heathland habitat, reveal that plant–pollinator interactions are more specialized than shown in most previous studies. At the studied site, the specialization index Embedded Image was lower for the visitation network than the PE network, which was in turn lower than Embedded Image for the PI network. Our study shows that collecting PE data is feasible for community-level studies in low diversity communities and that including information about PE can change the structure of interaction networks. This could have important consequences for our understanding of threats to pollination systems.


Ballantyne, G., Baldock, K. C. R., & Willmer, P. G. (2015). Constructing more informative plant–pollinator networks: visitation and pollen deposition networks in a heathland plant community. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1814),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 11, 2015
Online Publication Date Sep 2, 2015
Publication Date Sep 7, 2015
Deposit Date Nov 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Aug 19, 2019
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Electronic ISSN 1471-2954
Publisher Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 282
Issue 1814
Article Number 20151130
Keywords Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all); Immunology and Microbiology(all); Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all); Environmental Science(all); Medicine(all)
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Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

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