An endemic plant and the plant-insect visitor network of a dune ecosystem

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kayri Havens (Creator)
Jaclyn N. Inkster (Creator)
Claudia L. Jolls (Creator)
Brian G. Scholtens (Creator)
Pati Vitt (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: Network theory increasingly is used to quantify and evaluate mutualistic interactions , such as those among plants and their flower-visiting insects or pollinators. Some plant species have been shown to be important in community structure using network metrics; however , the roles of plant taxa , particularly rare species , are not well understood. Pitcher's thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) , a threatened endemic of Great Lakes shorelines , flowers late-June to early-August , when other floral resources may be less abundant or unavailable. We performed 10€¯min insect visitor observations on all insect pollinated plants in 44-10€¯m by 10€¯m plots at Sturgeon Bay , northern lower MI , USA , during C. pitcheri flowering and recorded plant species , number of open flowers , species of insect visiting , and number of visits by insects. Pitcher's thistle received 18.2% of all 600 recorded visits , 61.1% more than the next most visited plant. Pitcher's thistle also received visits from 22 of the 59 different insect species in the network , twice as many as the next most visited plant species. Species-level network analysis metrics showed that Pitcher's thistle was most generalized , with greatest species strength , betweenness , and connectance scores of any other plant taxon , demonstrating network topological importance. Pitcher's thistle received significantly more insect visits relative to its abundance that did any other plant species. Therefore , conservation of C. pitcheri and of other rare taxa , particularly in xeric and low diversity systems , can be significant beyond species-level management and may extend to conservation of the plant-insect community.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Plant-insect visitor network, Cirsium pitcheri, Rarity, Dune endemics

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