Plant-pollinator networks in Australian urban bushland remnants are not structurally equivalent to those in residential gardens

Kit S. Prendergast, Jeff Ollerton

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


    Urbanisation is a prominent and increasing form of land-use change, with the potential to disrupt the interactions between pollinators such as bees and the flowering plants that they visit. This in turn may cause cascading local extinctions and have consequences for pollination services. Network approaches go beyond simple metrics of abundance and species richness, enabling understanding of how the structure of plant-pollinator communities are affected by urbanisation. Here we compared pollination networks between native vegetation (bushland) remnants and residential gardens in the urbanised region of the southwest Australian biodiversity hotspot. Across fourteen sites, seven per habitat, plant-bee visitor networks were created from surveys conducted monthly during the spring-summer period over two years. Extinction slope (a measure of how extinctions cascade through the network), and network robustness and nestedness were higher for bushland remnants, suggesting that networks in bushland remnants had greater functional integrity, but if disrupted, more cascading extinctions could occur. In contrast, niche overlap between pollinators was higher in residential gardens, suggesting greater competition for resources. Most species-level properties did not differ between habitats, except for normalised degree, which was higher in bushland remnants. In conclusion, it appears that pollination networks in managed residential gardens are not structurally equivalent with those in bushland remnants. This has implications for conservation of wild bee assemblages in this biodiversity hotspot, and suggests removal of remnant native vegetation for residential development could disrupt the integrity of plant-pollinator assemblages.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)973-987
    Number of pages15
    JournalUrban Ecosystems
    Issue number5
    Early online date8 Jan 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021


    • Ecology
    • Urban Studies
    • Urbanisation
    • Honeybees
    • Flower-visitors
    • Bipartite
    • Bees
    • Plant-pollinator networks


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