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Nectar resource diversity organises flower-visitor community structure

By S. G. Potts, B. Vulliamy, S. Roberts, C. O'Toole, A. Dafni, G. Ne'eman and P. G. Willmer


Communities of nectar-producing plants show high spatio-temporal variation in the patterns of volume and concentration presentation. We illustrate a novel approach for quantifying nectar reward structures in complex communities, demonstrating that nectar resource diversity (defined as the variety of nectar volume-concentration combinations available) may be a fundamental factor organising nectarivore communities. In a series of diverse bee and entomophilous flower communities in Israel, our measure of nectar resource diversity alone explains the majority of variation in bee species richness, while other nectar variables (volume, concentration, energy value, and water content) have little predictive value per se. The new measure of nectar resource diversity is highly correlated with floral species richness and particularly with the species richness of annuals, yet it is additive in its effect on bee diversity. We conclude that relying solely upon measurements of mean nectar volume and mean nectar concentration overlooks a key characteristic of community-level reward structure, nectar resource diversity, so that previous studies may have failed to identify an important determinant of flower-visitor community structure

Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.0013-8703.2004.00212.x
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