Fire in Mediterranean-type ecosystems produces catastrophic changes in plant-pollinator systems; the recovery of which has been studied by comparing an unburnt mature forest habitat with that of an adjacent recently burnt area (eight years post-fire). The composition, visitation profiles, and effectiveness of the taxonomically diverse pollinator assemblages found on a core nectar providing species (Satureja thymbra: Lamiaceae) were examined in these two contrasting habitats. S. thymbra in the freshly burnt area had low nectar standing crop and relatively less diverse bee community than an unburnt area which had twice the nectar standing crop and a higher bee diversity and abundance. Both sites supported bee assemblages dominated by the non-native bumblebee Bombus terrestris. Spatio-temporal heterogeneity of nectar standing crops and microclimatic conditions were sufficient to explain the form and magnitude of the diurnal foraging profiles at each site in relation to species specific foraging and flight abilities. B. terrestris, Apis mellifera and native solitary bees were the three primary guilds visiting S. thymbra and varied in the efficiency with which they delivered conspecific pollen grains to receptive stigmas. A pollinator effectiveness index for these three guilds was calculated based on floral visitation rates and pollen delivery efficiency and reflected the actual levels of effectiveness of each guild within and across the two habitat types. There was no overall inter-community difference in pollination effectiveness as the bee assemblages in both habitats were sufficient to produce maximum fruit set in S. thymbra, though the relative contribution of each guild varied intra-communally. Pollen limitation was not found to occur in either habitat.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics