The Restoration of Plant–Pollinator Interactions in Hay Meadows

Authors

  • Mikael Lytzau Forup,

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UG, U.K.
    2. Present address: Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, 1 College Farm Road, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1582, U.S.A.
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  • Jane Memmott

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol, BS8 1UG, U.K.
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Address correspondence to J. Memmott, email Jane.Memmott@bris.ac.uk

Abstract

Whether restoration programs successfully reinstate ecological interactions remains a contentious and largely untested issue. We investigated plant and pollinator interactions on two old and two restored hay meadows, with the aim of evaluating if quantitative patterns of insect visitation and pollen transport were comparable among old and restored meadows. In terms of structural diversity, few species of plants and insects were shared among the webs. In all four meadows, Diptera and Hymenoptera dominated the visitor community in terms of both species richness and abundance. Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Lepidoptera comprised the remainder of the flower visitors. No significant difference was found between restored and old sites in plant or insect species richness or in plant and insect abundance. In terms of function, the meadows appeared more similar, although a slightly higher proportion of the potential links between plants and insects was realized for old meadows. No difference was found in the proportion of plant species visited, and visited plant species were generalized, with all having more than a single species of insect visitor. We also sampled approximately 400,000 pollen grains from the flower-visiting insects. There were no differences between old and restored sites in the amount of pollen being transported or in the average number of pollen grains per insect. At both types of meadows, Hymenoptera carried most pollen, followed by Diptera. Again, generalization was the norm, with all plants having more than a single species of pollen carrier. No difference was observed in the connectance of pollen transport webs between old and restored sites. Overall, although the four meadows showed considerable structural variation, they showed similarity with regard to the functional processes we studied. Because structural variation is expected among localities, we conclude that the two restoration projects have been successful.

Ancillary