• Annual variation;
  • coevolution;
  • environmental heterogeneity;
  • Labiatae;
  • mutualism;
  • pollination;
  • pollinator abundance;
  • seasonality;
  • specialization

Variation in time (annual and seasonal) and space (between- and within-population) is examined for the pollinator assemblage of Lavandula latifolia (Labiatae), an insect-pollinated, summer- flowering, evergreen shrub of Mediterranean woodlands in southeastern Spain. Lavandula latifolia is pollinated there by nearly 85 species of comparatively long-tongued Hymenoptera, Diptera and Lepidoptera.

The diversity, composition and abundance of pollinators varied markedly between years. Lepidopteran taxa prevailed numerically in one year, hymenopterans in four years, and both groups had similar abundance in the remaining year. The vast majority of pollinators exhibited significant annual differences in average abundance. Only 35.7% of taxa were recorded in all of the six study years. The pollinator assemblage had marked seasonal dynamics. Important changes in species richness, abundance and composition took place over the flowering season of L. latifolia (nearly 3 months). Only 21.7% of insect taxa occurred throughout the flowering season. Lavandula latifolia populations at different distances from water courses differed broadly in the abundance and composition of pollinators. Hymenopterans dominated numerically at the water-distant sites, whereas lepidopterans prevailed in populations growing in the vicinity of streams. Only 40.7% of taxa were recorded at all of the four study populations. Within the same plant population, horizontal distances of the order of 25 m resulted in significant changes in pollinator composition.

Variations at the four scales considered combine to produce, from the viewpoint of L. latifolia, a spatio-temporal mosaic of pollinators. As these differ broadly in frequency of pollen transfer, size of pollen loads deposited, and between-flower flight distance patterns, spatio-temporal variation will predictably result in inconsistent or contradictory selective pressures on the plant, thus hindering specialization in relation to particular pollinators.