The positive relationship between productivity and species diversity is well-known. Insect communities associated with the flowers of Cactaceae species represent an interesting system to explore the productivity-diversity relationship because branches facing the equator receive more photosynthetically active radiation and have higher productivity. Thus, flowers with contrasting orientations within an individual, and even within a single branch, might differ in productivity. Therefore, higher abundance, species richness, and diversity are expected for the insect communities associated with south-facing flowers. This hypothesis was tested in Pachycereus weberi (J.M. Coulter) Backeberg (Cactaceae). Insects within flowers with contrasting orientations were collected and its abundance, richness, and diversity were estimated. We also asked if insects prefer big flowers. Thus, flower volume was estimated and regression analyses were conducted to test if there is a positive relationship between flower size and insect abundance. Flower orientation did not affect species richness. However, species abundance and diversity were different in flowers with contrasting orientations. In general, species abundance was higher in flowers facing southwards than in north-facing flowers. On the contrary, species diversity was higher in north-facing flowers. Abundance of Coleoptera was explained by flower volume in south-facing flowers. Contrary to our hypothesis, total diversity was greater in the less productive oriented flowers. Three possible explanations are discussed to explain the low diversity found in the highly productive, south-facing flowers. Our study provides evidence for the effects of productivity on the structure of insect communities at a very small-scale.
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Vol. 43 • No. 4