Pollinators and fire

Pollination ecological networks and post-fire recovery

Subject: Pollination networks
Location: Serra do Caldeirão
Leader: Paula Banza

Fires are a natural feature of Mediterranean ecosystems and their importance in the vegetation dynamics is well known. What is less clear is how the abundance and efficiency of pollinators respond following burning events. The ecological recovery of a system implies the restoration of plant-pollinator interactions, so these can serve as an important bio-indicator to track communities that have suffered disruption.

This study aims to evaluate the recovery of plant-pollinator interactions after a fire in a selected area of Serra do Caldeirão, close to São Brás de Alportel, not far inland from A Rocha Portugal’s centre Cruzinha. Pollination networks are being compared in areas that burned in 2012 with intact and built-up areas, with a particular focus on moths.

This project will allow us to build multiple ecological pollination networks between undisturbed sites and sites that suffered disturbances caused by fire and determine which are the most important pollinators. This will allow us to evaluate the importance of interactions between plants and pollinators as indicators of stability and resilience of ecosystems.

There are already two scientific publications that have come out of this study:

Banza, P., Macgregor, C.J., Belo, A.D.F., Fox, R., Pocock, M.J.O. & Evans, D.M. (2019) Wildfire alters the structure and seasonal dynamics of nocturnal pollen‐transport networks. Functional Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13388 PDF

Banza, P., Belo, A.D.F. & Evans, D.M. (2015) The structure and robustness of nocturnal Lepidopteran pollen-transfer networks in a Biodiversity Hotspot. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 1–9 LINK