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As diverse environmental changes continue to influence the structure and function of plant–pollinator interactions across spatial and temporal scales, we will need to enlist numerous approaches to understand these changes. Quantitative examination of floral volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is one approach that is gaining popularity, and recent work suggests that floral VOCs hold substantial promise for better understanding and predicting the effects of environmental change on plant–pollinator interactions. Until recently, few ecologists were employing chemical approaches to investigate mechanisms by which components of environmental change may disrupt these essential mutualisms. In an attempt to make these approaches more accessible, we summarize the main field, laboratory, and statistical methods involved in capturing, quantifying, and analyzing floral VOCs in the context of changing environments. We also highlight some outstanding questions that we consider to be highly relevant to making progress in this field.
Climate change is affecting both the timing of life history events and the spatial distributions of many species, including plants and pollinators. Shifts in phenology and range affect not only individual plant and pollinator species but also interactions among them, with possible negative consequences for both parties due to unfavorable abiotic conditions or mismatches caused by differences in shift magnitude or direction. Ultimately, population extinctions and reductions in pollination services could occur as a result of these climate change–induced shifts, or plants and pollinators could be buffered by plastic or genetic responses or novel interactions. Either scenario will likely involve altered selection pressures, making an understanding of plasticity and local adaptation in space and time especially important. In this review, we discuss two methods for studying plant–pollinator interactions under climate change: spatial and temporal transplants, both of which offer insight into whether plants and pollinators will be able to adapt to novel conditions. We discuss the advantages and limitations of each method and the future possibilities for this area of study. We advocate for consideration of how joint shifts in both dimensions might affect plant–pollinator interactions and point to key insights that can be gained with experimental transplants.
Plant–pollinator interactions are potentially at risk due to climate change. Because of the spatial and temporal variation associated with the effects of climate change and the responses of both actors, research to assess this interaction requires creative approaches. This review focuses on assessments of plants' and pollinators' altered phenology in response to environmental changes, as phenology is one of the key responses. I reviewed research methods with the goal of presenting the wide diversity of available techniques for addressing changes in these interactions. Approaches ranged from use of historical specimens to multisite experimental community studies; while differing in depth of historical information and community interactions, all contribute to assessment of phenology changes. Particularly insightful were those studies that directly assessed the environmental changes across spatial and temporal scales and the responses of plants and pollinators at these scales. Longer-term studies across environmental gradients, potentially with reciprocal transplants, enable an assessment of climate impacts at both scales. While changes in phenology are well studied, the impacts of phenology changes are not. Future research should include approaches to address this gap.
Plant–pollinator interactions are essential for successful plant reproduction in both natural and agricultural systems. These interactions are negatively impacted by recent large-scale alterations of the environments, particularly climate change. The responses of plants and pollinators to changing abiotic conditions that vary seasonally and geographically are often uncoordinated, potentially leading to the breakdown of this interaction. The complexity of the responses of plants and pollinators to our changing climate necessitates creative approaches. The six articles in this special issue directly address this need by providing a variety of key methods and reviews of current methodology. The articles include: DNA barcoding methods for use on pollen collected from visiting bees; methods for assessment of plant attraction traits (nectar and review of floral volatiles methods); a field sampling method for ground nesting bees; a review of using spatial and temporal transplants for addressing changing dynamics of plant–pollinator interactions; and a review of approaches used to assess potential shifts in phenology of plants and pollinators. Collectively, these articles illustrate some of the breadth of approaches needed to address the changing dynamics of plant–pollinator interactions.