About evolutionary responses of plant-pollinator interactions

This is a personal review of Pontarp et al. 2023, published in Biological Reviews


This great work seems to be intriguing to me, because I am interested in the behavior of ecological networks over time. Evolution is a long-term process, but human impact, such as pesticide use and habitat fragmentation, is hastening it. The authors conduct a literature assessment on the effects of agricultural intensification on the evolutionary responses and interactions of plants and animals. In general, interactions may be assumed to be static, but we know that this is not the case. Biotic interactions are both spatially and temporally dynamic . When evolution is taken into account in a dynamic temporal model of ecological networks, complexity increases exponentially. Evolutionary times are typically out of scale for our current studies in interaction networks. However, if human influence could accelerate this, it is certainly worthwhile to consider.

Research question

The challenge here is “how evolutionary adaptations may spread between and between trophic levels, with ramifications for species conservation and ecological functioning in agroecosystems”.

This question makes me think of coevolution too. Adaptations in an organism or group of organisms that perpetuate themselves, and trigger a chain effect. A chain effect that can trigger an accelerated process of evolution. Other concepts such as phenotypic plasticity come into play here. Not all species are equally capable of adapting. All of this points to unforeseen community reconfigurations.


*Review in progress*