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Abundance drives broad patterns of generalisation in plant-hummingbird pollination networks
Benno I Simmons,
Pietro K. Maruyama,
Peter A. Cotton,
Oscar H. Marín-Gómez,
María A. Maglianesi,
Márcia A. Rocca,
Licléia C. Rodrigues,
Marcelo F. Vasconcelos,
Ana M. Martín González,
Lynn V Dicks,
William J Sutherland
Posted 07 Jun 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/339762 (published DOI: 10.1111/oik.06104)
Posted 07 Jun 2018
Abundant pollinators are often more generalised than rare pollinators. This could be because abundance drives generalisation: neutral effects suggest that more abundant species will be more generalised simply because they have more chance encounters with potential partners. On the other hand, generalisation could drive abundance, as generalised species could have a competitive advantage over specialists, being able to exploit a wider range of resources and gain a more balanced nutrient intake. Determining the direction of the abundance- generalisation relationship is therefore a chicken-and-egg dilemma. Here we determine the direction of the relationship between abundance and generalisation in hummingbird-plant pollination networks sampled from a variety of locations across the Americas. We find evidence that hummingbirds are generalised because they are abundant, and little evidence that hummingbirds are abundant because they are generalised. Additionally, a null model analysis suggests this pattern is due to neutral processes: most patterns of species-level abundance and generalisation were well explained by a null model that assumed interaction neutrality. These results suggest that neutral processes play a key role in driving broad patterns of generalisation in hummingbird pollinators.
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