01 April, 2014

The challenge of predicting plant-pollinator responses to climate change

By Jason R. Straka and Brian Starzomski

Climate change is affecting how plants and pollinators interact.  In recent decades, some plants have been flowering earlier and some pollinators such as insects have been active earlier, partly as a result of warming temperatures.  There is concern that plants and pollinators may respond differently to continued climate change, causing plants to bloom when pollinators are not active, or causing pollinators to be active when flowers are not blooming.  In the worst-case scenario, this could lead to “mismatched” timing with plants failing to produce fruit or seeds while pollinators starve.  To assess whether or not this worst-case-scenario is likely to occur, we reviewed the literature and highlighted a number of areas where research is ongoing or needed.

Alpine meadows with elevation gradients, such as this one in British Columbia, Canada, can be useful places to test ideas about the timing of plant-pollinator interactions.

Read the whole summary in: English!
Read the scientific publication in JPE.

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