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Geographical variation in mutualistic networks

Although species and their interactions in unison represent biodiversity and all the ecological and evolutionary processes associated with life, biotic interactions have, contrary to species, rarely been integrated into the concepts of spatial ß-diversity. Here, ß-diversity of ecological networks is examined using pollination networks sampled across the Canary Islands. Adjacent and distant communities are showed to be more and less similar, respectively, in their composition of plants, pollinators and interactions than expected from random distributions. Replacement of species is revealed as the major driver of interaction turnover and this contribution increases with distance. Finally, species-specific partner compositions (here called partner fidelity) deviate from random partner use, but vary as a result of ecological and geographical variables. In particular, breakdown of partner fidelity was facilitated by increasing geographical distance, changing abundances and changing linkage levels, but was not related to the geographical distribution of the species. This highlights the importance of space when comparing communities of interacting species and may stimulate a rethinking of the spatial interpretation of interaction networks. Moreover, geographical interaction dynamics and its causes are important in efforts to anticipate effects of large-scale changes, such as anthropogenic disturbances.. informacion[at] Trøjelsgaard et al (2015) Geographical variation in mutualistic networks: similarity, turnover and partner fidelity Proc. R. Soc. B 282: 20142925.

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