New directions in pollinator research: diversity, conflict and response to global change - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew research repository
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Journal article

New directions in pollinator research: diversity, conflict and response to global change

18 June 2020


Interactions between pollinators and their plant hosts are central to maintaining global biodiversity and ensuring our food security. In this special issue, we compile reviews that summarize existing knowledge and point out key outstanding research areas to understand and safeguard pollinators, pollinators–host plant interactions and the pollination ecosystem services they provide. The vast diversity of the pollinator–plant interactions that exists on this planet still remains poorly explored, with many being associations involving a specialist pollinator partner, although historically most focus has been given to generalist pollinators, such as the honeybee. Two areas highlighted here are the ecology and evolution of oligolectic bee species, and the often-neglected groups of pollinators that forage solely at night. Advances in automated detection technologies could offer potential and complementary solutions to the current shortfall in knowledge on interactions occurring between less well-documented plant–pollinator associations, by increasing the collection range and capacity of flower visitation data over space and time. Pollinator–host plant interactions can be affected by external biotic factors, with herbivores and pathogens playing particularly important roles. Such interactions can be disrupted by modifying plant volatile and reward chemistry, with possible effects on pollinator attraction and pollination success. Mechanisms which underpin interactions between plants and their pollinators also face many anthropogenic disturbances. Reviews in this issue discuss threats from parasites and climate change to pollinator populations and plant–pollinator networks, and suggest new ways to mitigate these threats. While the protection of existing plant–pollinator networks will be a crucial goal for conservation biology, more research is needed to understand how lost interactions in degraded habitats may be restored with mutual benefits to plants and pollinators.


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29 Jun 2020
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