Seasonal cycles, phylogenetic assembly, and functional diversity of orchid bee communities

Santiago R. Ramírez, Carlos Hernández, Andres Link, Margarita M. López-Uribe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neotropical rainforests sustain some of the most diverse terrestrial communities on Earth. Euglossine (or orchid) bees are a diverse lineage of insect pollinators distributed throughout the American tropics, where they provide pollination services to a staggering diversity of flowering plant taxa. Elucidating the seasonal patterns of phylogenetic assembly and functional trait diversity of bee communities can shed new light into the mechanisms that govern the assembly of bee pollinator communities and the potential effects of declining bee populations. Male euglossine bees collect, store, and accumulate odoriferous compounds (perfumes) to subsequently use during courtship display. Thus, synthetic chemical baits can be used to attract and monitor euglossine bee populations. We conducted monthly censuses of orchid bees in three sites in the Magdalena valley of Colombia - a region where Central and South American biotas converge - to investigate the structure, diversity, and assembly of euglossine bee communities through time in relation to seasonal climatic cycles. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that phylogenetic community structure and functional trait diversity changed in response to seasonal rainfall fluctuations. All communities exhibited strong to moderate phylogenetic clustering throughout the year, with few pronounced bursts of phylogenetic overdispersion that coincided with the transition from wet-to-dry seasons. Despite the heterogeneous distribution of functional traits (e.g., body size, body mass, and proboscis length) and the observed seasonal fluctuations in phylogenetic diversity, we found that functional trait diversity, evenness, and divergence remained constant during all seasons in all communities. However, similar to the pattern observed with phylogenetic diversity, functional trait richness fluctuated markedly with rainfall in all sites. These results emphasize the importance of considering seasonal fluctuations in community assembly and provide a glimpse to the potential effects that climatic alterations may have on both pollinator communities and the ecosystem services they provide. Euglossine (or orchid) bees are a speciose lineage of insect pollinators distributed throughout the American tropics that pollinate a staggering diversity of flowering plant taxa. Elucidating the seasonal patterns of phylogenetic assembly and functional trait diversity of bee communities is crucial for understanding the potential effects of declining bee populations, particularly in threatened ecosystems such as tropical rainforests. We conducted monthly censuses of orchid bees in three sites in the Magdalena valley of Colombia-a region where Central and South American biotas converge-to investigate the structure, diversity, and assembly of euglossine bee communities through time in relation to seasonal climatic variables. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that phylogenetic community structure and functional trait diversity changed in response to seasonal rainfall fluctuations. Our results emphasize the importance of considering seasonal fluctuations in community assembly and provide a glimpse of the potential effects that climatic alterations may have on pollinator communities and the ecosystem services they provide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1896-1907
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume5
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Seasonal cycles, phylogenetic assembly, and functional diversity of orchid bee communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this