The sudden collapse of pollinator communities

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterAcademicpeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Declines in pollinator populations may harm biodiversity and agricultural productivity. Little attention has, however, been paid to the systemic response of mutualistic communities to global environmental change. Using a modelling approach and merging network theory with theory on critical transitions, we show that the scale and nature of critical transitions is likely to be influenced by the architecture of mutualistic networks. Specifically, we show that pollinator populations may collapse suddenly once drivers of pollinator decline reach a critical point. A high connectance and/or nestedness of the mutualistic network increases the capacity of pollinator populations to persist under harsh conditions. However, once a tipping point is reached, pollinator populations collapse simultaneously. Recovering from this single community-wide collapse requires a relatively large improvement of conditions. These findings may have large implications for our view on the sustainability of pollinator communities and the services they provide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-359
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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pollinator
pollinators
nestedness
sustainability
biodiversity
productivity
modeling

Keywords

  • animal mutualistic networks
  • early-warning signals
  • critical transitions
  • coevolutionary networks
  • catastrophic shifts
  • ecosystems
  • biodiversity
  • stability
  • architecture
  • diversity

Cite this

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title = "The sudden collapse of pollinator communities",
abstract = "Declines in pollinator populations may harm biodiversity and agricultural productivity. Little attention has, however, been paid to the systemic response of mutualistic communities to global environmental change. Using a modelling approach and merging network theory with theory on critical transitions, we show that the scale and nature of critical transitions is likely to be influenced by the architecture of mutualistic networks. Specifically, we show that pollinator populations may collapse suddenly once drivers of pollinator decline reach a critical point. A high connectance and/or nestedness of the mutualistic network increases the capacity of pollinator populations to persist under harsh conditions. However, once a tipping point is reached, pollinator populations collapse simultaneously. Recovering from this single community-wide collapse requires a relatively large improvement of conditions. These findings may have large implications for our view on the sustainability of pollinator communities and the services they provide.",
keywords = "animal mutualistic networks, early-warning signals, critical transitions, coevolutionary networks, catastrophic shifts, ecosystems, biodiversity, stability, architecture, diversity",
author = "J.J. Lever and {van Nes}, E.H. and M. Scheffer and J. Bascompte",
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journal = "Ecology Letters",
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}

The sudden collapse of pollinator communities. / Lever, J.J.; van Nes, E.H.; Scheffer, M.; Bascompte, J.

In: Ecology Letters, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2014, p. 350-359.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The sudden collapse of pollinator communities

AU - Lever, J.J.

AU - van Nes, E.H.

AU - Scheffer, M.

AU - Bascompte, J.

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Declines in pollinator populations may harm biodiversity and agricultural productivity. Little attention has, however, been paid to the systemic response of mutualistic communities to global environmental change. Using a modelling approach and merging network theory with theory on critical transitions, we show that the scale and nature of critical transitions is likely to be influenced by the architecture of mutualistic networks. Specifically, we show that pollinator populations may collapse suddenly once drivers of pollinator decline reach a critical point. A high connectance and/or nestedness of the mutualistic network increases the capacity of pollinator populations to persist under harsh conditions. However, once a tipping point is reached, pollinator populations collapse simultaneously. Recovering from this single community-wide collapse requires a relatively large improvement of conditions. These findings may have large implications for our view on the sustainability of pollinator communities and the services they provide.

AB - Declines in pollinator populations may harm biodiversity and agricultural productivity. Little attention has, however, been paid to the systemic response of mutualistic communities to global environmental change. Using a modelling approach and merging network theory with theory on critical transitions, we show that the scale and nature of critical transitions is likely to be influenced by the architecture of mutualistic networks. Specifically, we show that pollinator populations may collapse suddenly once drivers of pollinator decline reach a critical point. A high connectance and/or nestedness of the mutualistic network increases the capacity of pollinator populations to persist under harsh conditions. However, once a tipping point is reached, pollinator populations collapse simultaneously. Recovering from this single community-wide collapse requires a relatively large improvement of conditions. These findings may have large implications for our view on the sustainability of pollinator communities and the services they provide.

KW - animal mutualistic networks

KW - early-warning signals

KW - critical transitions

KW - coevolutionary networks

KW - catastrophic shifts

KW - ecosystems

KW - biodiversity

KW - stability

KW - architecture

KW - diversity

U2 - 10.1111/ele.12236

DO - 10.1111/ele.12236

M3 - Letter

VL - 17

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EP - 359

JO - Ecology Letters

JF - Ecology Letters

SN - 1461-023X

IS - 3

ER -