Interpreting realized pollen flow in terms of pollinator travel paths and land-use resistance in heterogeneous landscapes
Widespread ecosystem change has led to declines in species world-wide. The loss of pollinators in particular constitutes a problem for ecosystem function and crop production. Understanding how landscape change affects pollinator movement, effective pollen flow, and plant and pollinator survival is therefore a global priority. In this study we investigated patterns of effective pollen flow, using wild cherry tree (Prunus avium) progeny arrays, to address two questions in three case studies: Do land-use types present different resistances to pollinator movement? Which pollinator travel path best explains the pollination data (straight lines, weighted straight lines, least cost paths or pair-wise resistance)? Trees and progeny arrays were genotyped and effective pollen flow and pollinator movement were estimated using the Spatially Explicit Mating Model.
We found that pollinators did modify their travel paths in response to land-use type and arrangement, but the travel path that best described pollinator movement and the resistance rank of the land uses depended on the type and size of land-use patches and the landscape context. We propose a novel theoretical framework rooted in behavioural ecology, the Resource Model, for interpreting pollinator behaviour in heterogeneous landscapes. We conclude by discussing the importance and practicality of conservation and management strategies in which native and non-native land-use types together provide functional habitat and support ecosystem services across economic landscapes.