04 October, 2023

Using functional traits to predict pollination services: a review

by Greenop et al.

Insect pollinators, including bees, play a major role in the reproductive success of flowering plants, and as such are critical in supporting yields of many agriculturally important crops.  In most situations pollination will be provided by a wide range of species, although their numbers and diversity will vary from place to place depending on prevailing environmental conditions and agricultural management.  Each species is unique, differing in not only its physical form and behaviour, but the way it exploits resources within the environment.  These differences are often referred to as functional traits and in many cases will directly affect the way pollinators interact with flowers to support pollination.   This paper provides a review of the large number of functional traits that have been derived to understand this relationship between the functional characteristics of individual pollinator species and their interaction with flowering plants during pollination.  We consider the scope of these traits, their availability and likely efficacy in predicting pollination success, as well as reviewing some of the key metrics and concepts used to link functional diversity in pollinator communities to the success with which pollination occurs.  This review is intended to provide an overview of the role of functional traits in pollinator ecology pollination as it currently stands and the scope for their future development in this area.

Read the scientific article in JPE here

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