A recent study published in Ecography, authored by Safeguard partners Dr. Douglas Sponsler and Prof. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter from the University of Würzburg (JMU), proposes a framework for examining the temporal, spatial, and functional aspects of floral resource availability. The paper “Pollinator competition and the structure of floral resources” addresses the lack of research on the importance of understanding flowers as a food source for pollinators, which has led to a significant gap in knowledge, particularly regarding the competition between pollinators for floral resources.
Based on their findings on when, where, and in which regions of floral trait space resources were limited, the researchers proposed a framework for understanding floral resource availability in terms of temporal, spatial and functional structure. The study also evaluates existing methods used to measure and summarise the diverse structure of floral resources, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses, while also suggesting possibilities for future methodological advancements.
Furthermore, the researchers highlight the link between floral resource structure and species coexistence, plant-pollinator community dynamics, and exogenous drivers (climate, land use, and episodic disturbances). It is also stated that floral resource structure acts as both a cause and an effect, mediating the connections between behavioural ecology, landscape ecology, and coexistence theory concerning flowers and florivores.
In conclusion, the authors are unanimous in saying that recognising the importance of studying floral resource structure and its practical applications will undoubtedly be beneficial to our understanding of coexistence and guide management decisions concerning contentious issues such as the compatibility of apiculture with wild pollinator conservation and the appropriate utilisation of floral enhancements in agri-environment schemes.
Read the full article here.
Fig. 2. from the article: A three-domain research agenda for the study of floral resource structure.