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Geographic mosaics of interactions via heterospecific pollen transfer may contribute to shape local and global patterns of plant diversity
  • Gerardo Arceo-Gomez
Gerardo Arceo-Gomez
East Tennessee State University
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Abstract

Studies that aim to understand the processes that generate and organize plant diversity in nature have a long history in Ecology. Among these, pollinator-mediated plant-plant interactions that occur by altering pollinator floral preferences have been at the forefront in this field. Current evidence however indicates that plants can interact directly via heterospecific pollen (HP) transfer, that these interactions are ubiquitous, and can have strong fitness effects with implications for floral evolution, speciation and community assembly. Hence, interest in understanding their role in the diversification and organization of plant communities is rapidly rising. The existence of geographic mosaics of species interactions and their role in shaping patterns of diversity is also well recognized. However, after 40 years of research, the importance of geographic mosaics in HP intensity and effects remain poorly known, thus ignoring its potential in shaping patterns of diversity at local and global scales. Here, I develop a conceptual framework and summarize existing evidence for the ecological and evolutionary consequences of geographic mosaics in HP transfer interactions and outline future directions in this field.