The diversity and structure of Australian alpine plant-pollinator communities and how global change is impacting these communities
ID: 613 / 455
Proposed Symposium Title: The diversity and structure of Australian alpine plant-pollinator communities and how global change is impacting these communities
Francisco Encinas-Viso1, Jaime Florez2, Bryan Lessard2, James Lumbers2, Juanita Rodriguez-Arrieta2, Alexander Schmidt-Lebuhn1, Andreas Zwick2 and Liz Milla1
Affiliations: 1 Centre of Australian National Biodiversity Research, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia 2 Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia
Alpine ecosystems are highly threatened by climate change. We are observing a fast shrinking of these ecosystems around the world with unprecedented changes of their macroclimate and vegetation. Plant-pollinator interactions play an important role in alpine ecosystems; however, we still know very little about alpine plant-pollinator communities in Australia and how they are affected by global change. Here we analyse the structure and diversity of a plant-pollinator metacommunity networks from the Australian alpine region using two approaches: pollen DNA metabarcoding and flower-visitor observations. Additionally, we analysed historical changes of plant-pollinator communities using insect museum specimens and molecular data. We found that alpine plant-pollinator networks show high spatial turnover of plant species and interaction rewiring as well as showing high phylogenetic diversity driven by micro-climate variability. Our analysis of museum specimens and historical data also revealed that Australian alpine ecosystems have gone through multiple changes of community diversity in the last century as result of grazing, introduced species and climate change. Overall, our findings suggest that the heterogeneity of Australian alpine habitats make these communities partially resilient to climate change, however rapid vegetation changes observed could generate the extinction of some alpine herbaceous plants and key pollinator taxa.