Plant-pollinators across space and time

There will be dramatic changes in climate and more pressure in the future to produce renewable resources such as food, fodder and bioenergy. It is important that decisions for management of our natural resources are based on the best available science. To achieve this, ecologists need to get much better at synthesizing our knowledge of how drivers influence ecosystems and forecasting scenarios for future land management. My research focuses on the specific topic of plant-pollinator interactions and the ecosystem service of pollination. The processes that will be involved in forecasting pollination depend the time scale. In the short-term, processes such as phylogeny, abundance, phenology, and trait matching are important, whereas in the longer-term, processes such as climate, population dynamics, dispersal, extinction and evolution are important. In long-term empirical studies, extinctions are non-random, with certain clades of species being more vulnerable. A general understanding of the effects of drivers on plant-pollinator interaction networks is currently challenged by differences across study in taxonomic, spatial and temporal grains as well as methodology. New technologies in hardware, machine learning and computer vision will allow for more standardized monitoring at broader spatio-temporal scales than was previously possible. However, these might not capture several important aspects of pollinator biodiversity.

In this seminar, Prof Knight will give an overview of plant-pollinator interactions and the ecosystem service of pollination, visiting long and short term projections and processes, and discuss the various challenges, solutions, and nuanced imperfections presented in contemporary approaches to capturing the complexities of pollinator biodiversity.


About the speaker

Tiffany Knight is a Professor at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), Martin Luther University, and the German Center For Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Germany. She is a community ecologist and is interested in understanding how plant-pollinator interactions change across environmental gradients and the consequences for plant reproduction and population dynamics. She started her research career in Florida, and spent time working on ecological synthesis projects in the USA before moving to Germany to become a Humboldt Professor in 2016.