Phenology drives species interactions and modularity in a plant - flower visitor network
Phenology is often identifed as one of the main structural driving forces of plant – fower visitor networks. Nevertheless, we do not yet have a full understanding of the efects of phenology in basic network build up mechanisms such as ecological modularity. In this study, we aimed to identify the efect of within-season temporal variation of plant and fower visitor activity on the network structural conformation. Thus, we analysed the temporal dynamics of a plant – fower visitor network in two Mediterranean alpine communities during one complete fowering season. In our approach, we built quantitative interaction networks and studied the dynamics through temporal beta diversity of species, interaction changes and modularity analysis. Within-season dissimilarity in the identity of interactions was mainly caused by species replacement through time (species turnover). Temporal replacement of species and interactions clearly impacted modularity, to the extent that species phenology emerged as a strong determinant of modularity in our networks. From an applied perspective, our results highlight the importance of considering the temporal variation of species interactions throughout the fowering season and the requirement of making comprehensive temporal sampling when aiming to build functionally consistent interaction networks.
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