E&E Seminar: Conserving species interactions for the maintenance of ecosystem function in a changing world

The majority of the world’s plants rely on animal pollination at least to some degree for reproduction. Anthropogenic changes to the environment may therefore have the potential to disrupt interactions between plants and pollinators and reduce the reproductive output of wild plant species. However, many plants have evolved traits that buffer their reproduction from variability in the availability of their pollinators. For example, plants with traits that confer low reliance on pollinator services for reproduction and/or those that are generalizing in their interactions might be more resistant to pollinator limitation in our changing environment. Therefore, it remains unclear if/when changes to pollinator communities will translate to declines in plant reproductive success. Addressing this gap in our knowledge requires an integrated understanding of how human perturbation to natural habitats are influencing the abundance and composition of pollinators, the interactions between plants and pollinators, and the reproductive success of plants. Here I will show how my work is aiming to address these questions.

Biography

Dr Joanne Bennett did her PhD in ecology at Monash University supervised by Prof Ralph Mac Nally and Dr Rohan Clarke. She studied changes in forest-bird assemblage structure in response to climate and vegetation change. She then did a post-doc in Germany at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig. Here she worked on pollen limitation and terrestrial biodiversity. She was then based at the University of Canberra. She was then awarded a 2022 ARC DECRA based in Fenner School at the ANU to investigate how human actions in agricultural landscapes affect the activity of pollinating insects.