The structural patterns comprising bimodal pollination networks can help characterize plant–pollinator systems and the interactions that influence species distribution and diversity over time and space. We compare network organization of three plant–pollinator communities along the altitudinal gradient of the San Francisco Peaks in northern Arizona. We found that pollination networks become more nested, as well as exhibit lower overall network specialization, with increasing elevation. Greater weight of generalist pollinators at higher elevations of the San Francisco Peaks may result in plant–pollinator communities less vulnerable to future species loss due to changing climate or shifts in species distribution. We uncover the critical, more generalized pollinator species likely responsible for higher nestedness and stability at the higher elevation environment. The generalist species most important for network stability may be of the greatest interest for conservation efforts; preservation of the most important links in plant–pollinator networks may help secure the more specialized pollinators and maintain species redundancy in the face of ecological change, such as changing climate.
- Elevational gradient
- Plant–pollinator interactions
- Pollination networks
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science