Faculté des sciences

Variation in the proportion of flower visitors of Arum maculatum along its distributional range in relation with community-based climatic niche analyses

Espíndola, Anahí ; Pellissier, Loïc ; Alvarez, Nadir

In: Oikos, 2010, p. 1-7

Because species–specific interactions between plants and insects require considerable physiological adaptations to establish and be maintained through time and space, highly specialized interactions are rare in nature. Consequently, even if some one-to-one interactions might appear locally specialized, additional partners may be involved at a wider scale. Here, we investigate the... Plus

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    Summary
    Because species–specific interactions between plants and insects require considerable physiological adaptations to establish and be maintained through time and space, highly specialized interactions are rare in nature. Consequently, even if some one-to-one interactions might appear locally specialized, additional partners may be involved at a wider scale.
    Here, we investigate the geographical constancy in the specificity level of the specialized lure-and-trap pollination antagonism involving the widespread European Arum maculatum and its associated Psychodid pollinators. Until now, studies concurred in demonstrating that one single insect species, Psychoda phalaenoides, efficiently cross-pollinated plants; researches were, however, performed locally in western Europe. In this study we characterize for the first time the flower visitors’ composition at the scale of the distribution range of A. maculatum by intensively collecting plants and insects throughout the European continent. We further correlate local climatic characteristics with the community composition of visiting arthropods.
    Our results show that flowers are generally visited by P. phalaenoides females, but not over the whole distribution range of the plant. In some regions this fly species is less frequent or even absent and another species, Psycha grisescens, becomes the prevailing visitor. This variability is geographically structured and can be explained by climatic factors: the proportion of P. grisescens increases with higher annual precipitations and lower precipitations in the warmest trimester, two characteristics typical of the Mediterranean zone. Climate thus seems driving the specificity of this interaction, by potentially affecting the phenology of one or both interacting species, or even of volatile and heat production in the plant. This result therefore challenges the specificity of other presumably one-to-one interactions covering wide distribution ranges, and provides an example of the direct effect that the abiotic environment can have on the fate of plant–insect interactions.