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Diversity and Distribution of Floral Resources Influence the Restoration of Plant–Pollinator Networks on a Reclaimed Strip Mine


  • Sarah Cusser,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, U.S.A.
    2. Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, U.S.A.
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  • Karen Goodell

    1. Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Newark, OH, U.S.A.
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Plant–pollinator mutualisms are one of the several functional relationships that must be reinstated to ensure the long-term success of habitat restoration projects. These mutualisms are unlikely to reinstate themselves until all of the resource requirements of pollinators have been met. By meeting these requirements, projects can improve their long-term success. We hypothesized that pollinator assemblage and structure and stability of plant–pollinator networks depend both on aspects of the surrounding landscape and of the restoration effort itself. We predicted that pollinator species diversity and network stability would be negatively associated with distance from remnant habitat, but that local floral diversity might rescue pollinator diversity and network stability in locations distant from the remnant. We created plots of native prairie on a reclaimed strip mine in central Ohio, U.S.A. that ranged in floral diversity and isolation from the remnant habitat. We found that the pollinator diversity declined with distance from the remnant habitat. Furthermore, reduced pollinator diversity in low floral diversity plots far from the remnant habitat was associated with loss of network stability. High floral diversity, however, compensated for losses in pollinator diversity in plots far from the remnant habitat through the attraction of generalist pollinators. Generalist pollinators increased network connectance and plant-niche overlap. As a result, network robustness of high floral diversity plots was independent of isolation. We conclude that the aspects of the restoration effort itself, such as floral community composition, can be successfully tailored to incorporate the restoration of pollinators and improve success given a particular landscape context.