Functional conservation of coastal dune systems: the pollination network perspective
Campus Scientifico via Torino - edificio DELTA, Aula 0B
Edy Fantinato, DAIS
Although biodiversity loss in the 21st century has been ranked among the major drivers of ecosystem change, little is still known on how the loss of biotic interactions triggered by local extinctions might affect the functioning of ecosystems.
The issue will be discussed with an example regarding coastal dune ecosystems, where animal-mediated pollination has a marked influence on the dynamics and diversity of plant communities. Thus, the pollination networks approach may be useful to evaluate ecological community structure and depict interactions among species, providing the opportunity for a holistic assessment of ecosystem structure and functioning.
The assessment of the function of pollination in coastal dune systems allows at (i) disentangling the contribution of plant species growing at different distances from the sea to the resilience of pollination networks and (ii) evaluating the impact of human disturbance on the resilience of pollination networks.
In coastal dune ecosystems pollination networks had a clear spatial configuration, with plant species differently contributing to the organization of pollination interactions occurring non-randomly from the seashore inlands. Moreover, an intermediate level of human disturbance was positively related to the richness of animal-pollinated plant and pollinator species, as well as to the resilience of pollination networks.
The inclusion of biotic pollination-related interactions as an element in management or restoration plans could promote the conservation of the whole sequence of communities, and guide monitoring programs.
Indeed, the use of the pollination network approach allowed to evidence that a moderate disturbance can co-exist with the long-term conservation of pollination interactions on coastal dunes.