Compartmentalization in plant-insect flower visitor webs

L. V. Dicks, S. A. Corbet, R. F. Pywell

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1. Interactions between entomophilous flowering plants and their insect visitors were recorded at two mesotrophic grassland Communities in Norfolk, and a diagrammatic quantitative web produced for each community. 

2. The systems were analysed for compartmentalization using the method of Raffaelli & Hall (1992). based on trophic similarity between pairs of species. Good evidence was found for compartmentalization at both sites. 

3. Ordination of the data was used to suggest how the species fall into compartments. The likelihood that groups of plants and insects implied by this method represent real compartments in the web was assessed quantitatively, using trophic similarity indices, and qualitatively. by consideration of the species involved. 

4. The compartments reflected classic pollination syndromes to some extent, dividing the insect fauna into a group of butterflies and bees, and a group of flies, at both sites. The compartmentalization was also affected by phenology. 

5. Dominant interactions fell within compartments in the web, as might be expected in mutualistic systems. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-43
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002


  • community
  • mutualism
  • pollination syndromes
  • trophic similarity

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