Plant evolution can mediate negative effects from honey bees on wild pollinators

Milner, James R.D., Bloom, Elias H., Crowder, David W., and Northfield, Tobin D. (2020) Plant evolution can mediate negative effects from honey bees on wild pollinators. Ecology and Evolution, 10 (10). pp. 4407-4418.

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Pollinators are introduced to agroecosystems to provide pollination services. Introductions of managed pollinators often promote ecosystem services, but it remains largely unknown whether they also affect evolutionary mutualisms between wild pollinators and plants.

Here, we developed a model to assess effects of managed honey bees on mutualisms between plants and wild pollinators. Our model tracked how interactions among wild pollinators and honey bees affected pollinator and plant populations.

We show that when managed honey bees have a competitive advantage over wild pollinators, or a greater carrying capacity, the honey bees displace the wild pollinator. This leads to reduced plant density because plants benefit less by visits from honey bees than wild pollinators that coevolved with the plants.

As wild pollinators are displaced, plants evolve by increasing investment in traits that are attractive for honey bees but not wild pollinators. This evolutionary switch promotes wild pollinator displacement. However, higher mutualism investment costs by the plant to the honey bee can promote pollinator coexistence.

Our results show plant evolution can promote displacement of wild pollinators by managed honey bees, while limited plant evolution may lead to pollinator coexistence. More broadly, effects of honey bees on wild pollinators in agroecosystems, and effects on ecosystem services, may depend on the capacity of plant populations to evolve.

Item ID: 62958
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: biodiversity, honey bees, mathematical model, mutualism, plant evolution, wild pollinators
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License [], which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Western SARE, National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Projects and Grants: W SARE Grant Number: GW15‐022, NSF Grant Numbers: 121477‐00, 124006‐001, NIFA Grant Numbers: 2014‐51106‐22096, 2017‐67011‐26025
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2020 07:40
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310308 Terrestrial ecology @ 100%
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