20 April, 2022

The distributions of insect, wind and self pollination of plants in the Netherlands in relation to habitat types and 3D vegetation structure

Occurrences of pollination modes vary with different
habitat types and vegetation structure.
Photographed by Kaixuan Pan
in South Limburg, the Netherlands.

by Kaixuan Pan, Leon Marshall, Koos Biesmeijer, Geert R. de Snoo

Pollination is a critical event in the reproduction of plants. Insect, wind and self pollination are the most common modes. The occurrence of pollination modes vary depending on landscape context. Yet, it is unclear whether the presence of pollination modes depends on the type of natural habitat and the structure of the vegetation.

In this study, we use records of Dutch plant species to map the pollination modes of woody, herb and grass species across natural habitats. We then assess whether the distributions of different modes correlates with vegetation structure.

Our analysis showed that insect pollination is the most common mode across natural habitats for woody species and herbs. The presence of  Insect-pollinated woody species is higher in dune, river swamp and swamp peat than in other habitat types. Herbs showed a higher percentage of insect pollination in dune areas than in other habitat types. Grasses were always pollinated by wind or wind-selfing in all habitats. When assessing vegetation structure, we saw that wind-pollinated woody plants preferred dense vegetation with between 2 to 20 m. Insect-pollinated woody plants preferred lower, dense vegetation from 0.5 to 2 m. Grasses preferred open habitats instead of covered habitats. Insect-pollinated herb species showed an aversion to dense vegetation from 5 to 20 m. Wind-pollinated herbs showed an aversion to covered habitats.

These results will help us understand the environmental conditions which drive the distributions of pollination modes. Which supports efforts to predict distribution patterns and conserve plant diversity.

Read the scientific publication in JPE.