Journal Article

Ecology and evolution of plant–pollinator interactions

Randall J. Mitchell, Rebecca E. Irwin, Rebecca J. Flanagan and Jeffrey D. Karron

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 103, issue 9, pages 1355-1363
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp122
Ecology and evolution of plant–pollinator interactions

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background

Some of the most exciting advances in pollination biology have resulted from interdisciplinary research combining ecological and evolutionary perspectives. For example, these two approaches have been essential for understanding the functional ecology of floral traits, the dynamics of pollen transport, competition for pollinator services, and patterns of specialization and generalization in plant–pollinator interactions. However, as research in these and other areas has progressed, many pollination biologists have become more specialized in their research interests, focusing their attention on either evolutionary or ecological questions. We believe that the continuing vigour of a synthetic and interdisciplinary field like pollination biology depends on renewed connections between ecological and evolutionary approaches.

Scope

In this Viewpoint paper we highlight the application of ecological and evolutionary approaches to two themes in pollination biology: (1) links between pollinator behaviour and plant mating systems, and (2) generalization and specialization in pollination systems. We also describe how mathematical models and synthetic analyses have broadened our understanding of pollination biology, especially in human-modified landscapes. We conclude with several suggestions that we hope will stimulate future research. This Viewpoint also serves as the introduction to this Special Issue on the Ecology and Evolution of Plant–Pollinator Interactions. These papers provide inspiring examples of the synergy between evolutionary and ecological approaches, and offer glimpses of great accomplishments yet to come.

Keywords: Floral traits; generalization and specialization; global change; male fitness; mating systems; multiple paternity; plant–pollinator networks; pollen and gene dispersal; pollinator behaviour; pollination syndromes; pollination webs; self-fertilization

Journal Article.  6406 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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