Global importance of vertebrate pollinators for plant reproductive success: a meta-analysis

Fabrizia Ratto (Lead Author), Benno I. Simmons, Rebecca Spake, Veronica Zamora-Gutierrez, Michael A. MacDonald, Jennifer C. Merriman, Constance J. Tremlett, Guy M. Poppy, Kelvin S.-H. Peh, Lynn V. Dicks

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Vertebrate pollinators are increasingly threatened worldwide, but little is known about the potential consequences of their declines for plants and wider ecosystems. We present the first global assessment of the importance of vertebrate pollinators for zoophilous plant reproduction. Our meta-analysis of 126 experiments on plants revealed that excluding vertebrate pollinators reduced fruit and/or seed production by 63% on average. We found bat-pollinated plants to be more dependent on pollinators than bird-pollinated plants (an average 84% reduction in fruit/seed production when bats were being excluded, compared to 46% when birds were excluded). Dependence on vertebrate pollinators for fruit/seed production was greater in the tropics than at higher latitudes. With such a large potential impact of vertebrate pollinator loss, there is a clear need for prompt, effective conservation action for threatened flower-visiting vertebrate species. More research is needed on how such changes might affect wider ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82–90
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Ecology & the Environment
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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