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Response of pollinators to the tradeoff between resource acquisition and predator avoidance

Llandres Lopez A., De Mas E., Rodríguez-Gironés M.A.. 2012. Oikos, 121 (5) : p. 687-696.

Although the behaviour of animals facing the conflicting demands of increasing foraging success and decreasing predation risk has been studied in many taxa, the response of pollinators to variations in both factors has only been studied in isolation. We compared visit rates of two pollinator species, hoverflies and honeybees, to 40 Chrysanthemum segetum patches in which we manipulated predation risk (patches with and without crab spiders) and nectar availability (rich and poor patches) using a full factorial design. Pollinators responded differently to the tradeoff between maximising intake rate and minimising predation risk: honeybees preferred rich safe patches and avoided poor risky patches while the number of hoverflies was highest at poor risky patches. Because honeybees were more susceptible to predation than hoverflies, our results suggest that, in the presence of competition for resources, less susceptible pollinators concentrate their foraging effort on riskier resources, where competition is less severe. Crab spiders had a negative effect on the rate at which inflorescences were visited by honeybees. This effect was mediated through changes in the foraging strategy of honeybees, and could, in principle, be reversed by increasing nectar productivity of inflorescences. Our study shows that both pollinator species responded simultaneously and differently to variations in food reward and predation risk, and highlights the importance of studying the foraging strategies of pollinators in order to fully understand how plant¿pollinator interactions are established. (Résumé d'auteur)

Thématique : Ecologie végétale; Ecologie animale

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