In my PhD project, I focused on the role of pollinator diversity for the pollination of wild plants and potential mechanisms for pollinator diversity effects, such as species identity, complementarity and insurance. I studied various aspects relating to this overarching question:
- I performed an experiment testing the effect of pollinator diversity on seed production of a community of 14 different plant species, using flight cages inhabited by 0 – 5 species of wild bees in different combinations. This experiment provides the unique opportunity to analyze replicated pollination networks that vary in pollinator community composition without confounding variation in other factors such as abundance or environment.
- I looked at the impact of global environmental change on pollinator communities and pollination. I performed a full-factorial field experiment simulating advance in flowering phenology, shift in plant height and habitat loss, to test potential interactions among multiple aspects of global change. Investigating the preconditions for an insurance effect of wild bee diversity against climate change, I studied responses of different wild bee species to winter temperatures in a lab experiment.
- I studied within-day temporal dynamics in plant-pollinator interactions. Using hand-pollination and cage experiments, and network / community analyses, I focused on the effect of pollination on the timing of flower closure and its importance as a driver of temporal patterns in interaction networks.
- Employing a global perspective on plant-mutualist interactions, I also compared complementary specialization among tropical and temperate interaction networks.