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Understanding and planning ecological restoration of plant–pollinator networks

Authors

  • Mariano Devoto,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK
      Correspondence and present address: Cátedra de Botánica, Facultad de Agronomía de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, Av. San Martín 4453, C1417DSE, C. A. de Buenos Aires, Argentina. E-mail: mdevoto@agro.uba.ar
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  • Sallie Bailey,

    1. Forestry Commission, 231 Corstorphine Road, Ediburgh EH12 7AT, UK
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  • Paul Craze,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK
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  • Jane Memmott

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK
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Correspondence and present address: Cátedra de Botánica, Facultad de Agronomía de la Universidad de Buenos Aires, Av. San Martín 4453, C1417DSE, C. A. de Buenos Aires, Argentina. E-mail: mdevoto@agro.uba.ar

Abstract

Ecology Letters (2012) 15: 319–328

Abstract

Theory developed from studying changes in the structure and function of communities during natural or managed succession can guide the restoration of particular communities. We constructed 30 quantitative plant–flower visitor networks along a managed successional gradient to identify the main drivers of change in network structure. We then applied two alternative restoration strategies in silico (restoring for functional complementarity or redundancy) to data from our early successional plots to examine whether different strategies affected the restoration trajectories. Changes in network structure were explained by a combination of age, tree density and variation in tree diameter, even when variance explained by undergrowth structure was accounted for first. A combination of field data, a network approach and numerical simulations helped to identify which species should be given restoration priority in the context of different restoration targets. This combined approach provides a powerful tool for directing management decisions, particularly when management seeks to restore or conserve ecosystem function.

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