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Biodiversity buffers pollination from changes in environmental conditions

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A hypothesized underlying principle of the diversity-functioning relationship is that functional groups respond differently to environmental change. Over 3 years, we investigated how pollinator diversity contributes to the magnitude of pollination service through spatial complementarity and differential response to high winds in California almond orchards. We found honey bees preferentially visited the top sections of the tree. Where wild pollinators were present, they showed spatial complementarity to honey bees and visited the bottom tree sections more frequently. As wind speed increased, honey bees' spatial preference shifted toward the bottom tree sections. In high winds (>2.5 m s(-1) ), orchards with low pollinator diversity (honey bees only) received almost no flower visits. In orchards with high pollinator diversity, visitation decreased to a lesser extent as wild bee visitation was unaffected by high winds. Our results demonstrate how spatial complementarity in diverse communities can help buffer pollination services to environmental changes like wind speed.

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