Interaction, network, mutualism, pollinator web, bee, flower, habitat disturbance, florida scrub, pollinator, ecosystem service, ecology
Ecological interactions within a community shape the structure of ecosystems and influence ecosystem function. Plant-pollinator interactions exist as mutualistic exchange networks that may collapse as habitat loss occurs, thereby threatening the overall health of an ecosystem. Understanding the impacts of human-mediated habitat disturbance on ecological interactions is therefore crucial for conservation efforts. Archbold Biological Station (ABS) in Venus, Florida contains over 2000 hectares of protected Florida scrub habitat nested within a human-dominated environment that is threatened by anthropogenic habitat disturbance. In past studies, over 113 bee species and 157 associated host plants, many endemic to the Lake Wales Ridge, have been found on ABS property, providing an understanding of this system's plant-bee network. Using those data as a baseline, this study investigated the effects of varying levels of mechanical habitat disturbance intensity on the diversity and network structure of plant-bee interaction networks. Flowering plant abundance, richness, diversity, and composition as well as bee abundance and composition were significantly different across mechanical habitat disturbance levels. Interactions between bees and flowering plants also differed with varying disturbance intensity. From these results, it is clear that plants, bees and interactions between them are impacted by mechanical habitat disturbance in this system. This project informs management efforts not only for natural systems with the threat of alteration, but also for agricultural systems, many of which heavily rely on flower visitation by bee pollinators. This research also contributes to the growing field of interaction ecology by increasing understanding of habitat alteration effects on a valuable ecological interaction and ultimately ecosystem function.
Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Carman, Karlie, "Effects of mechanical habitat disturbance on the diversity and network structure of plant-bee interaction networks in Central Florida" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4543.