Plant-pollinator interactions: an endangered mutualism with implications for the ecology and conservation of threatened plants

The Iberian Peninsula is an important hotspot of biodiversity where conservation strategies represent a crucial but largely neglected issue. As in other parts of the globe, habitat loss, fragmentation and overexploitation and climate change are major threats to biodiversity, leading to changes in the composition and configuration of land cover and to gradual degradation of habitat quality, with consequences in vital interaction webs, such as plant-pollinator interactions. Focusing on the plant-pollinator mutualism, this project will assess the impacts of pollinator community changes driven by global stressors in the ecology and conservation of threatened plants. 

The main objectives are: 
– Provide current state-of-the-art on plant-pollinator interactions and pollinator assemblages for threatened plants in Europe;  
– Identify reproductive traits and life-cycle bottlenecks that may be related and predict threatened status;  
– Assess the impact of habitat changes in plant-pollinator interactions within and across habitats, along a landscape disturbance gradient;  
– Quantify the impact of different pollinator communities in the fitness, genetic composition and dynamics of threatened plant populations.  

This will be developed within ‘’CULTIVAR’’ and ‘’COST Action ConservePlants’’ projects, using synthetic reviews to build databases, extensive fieldwork, innovative approaches regarding interaction networks that account for quantitative and qualitative changes in pollinator communities, and selected threatened plant demography and genetics along a disturbance gradient, in an integrative framework to support long-term conservation action. 


Sara Lopes (FLOWer Lab, CFE-UC)  
Sílvia Castro (FLOWer Lab, CFE-UC) 
João Loureiro (FLOWer Lab, CFE-UC) 

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