Plant biotic interactions and fitness in habitat edges

Hermaphrodite flowers of Dianthus balbisii before (on the left) and after (on the right) hand-cross pollination (photo by D. Gargano).

Habitat variations influence the richness and composition of insect guilds. This affects plant reproduction, which depends upon functional relationships with insects involving both pollination and predation. The impact of changes in insect fauna can be seen in composite landscapes, where forest fragmentation produces transition habitats showing great heterogeneity over small spatial scales. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Gargano et al. investigated herbivory and pollination in an edge-specialist carnation over a forest–open habitat gradient. Visiting insects varied over the gradient, affecting herbivory and pollination rates, and offspring quality and quantity. Their findings emphasize the role of plant–insect interactions in tuning plant fitness in edge habitats, and provide guidelines for managing such ecological contexts.

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