The macroecology of animal versus wind pollination: ecological factors are more important than historical climate stability

André Rodrigo Rech, Bo Dalsgaard, Brody Sandel, Jesper Sonne, Jens-Christian Svenning, Naomi Holmes, Jeff Ollerton

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Background: The relative frequency of wind and animal pollinated plants is non-randomly distributed across the globe and numerous hypotheses have been raised for the greater occurrence of wind pollination in some habitats and towards higher latitudes. To date, however, there has been no comprehensive global investigation of these hypotheses.

Aims: Investigating a range of hypotheses for the role of biotic and abiotic factors as determinants of the global variation in animal versus wind pollination.

Methods: We analysed 67 plant communities ranging from 70º North to 34º South. For these we determined habitat type, species richness, insularity, topographic heterogeneity, current climate and Late-Quaternary climate change. The predictive effects of these factors on the proportion of wind- and animal-pollinated plants were tested using correlations, ordinary least squares (OLS) and logistic regression analyses with information-theoretic model selection.

Results: The proportion of animal-pollinated plant species was positively associated with plant species richness and current temperature. Furthermore, in forest, animal pollination was positively related to precipitation. Historical climate was only weakly and idiosyncratically correlated with animal pollination.

Conclusion: Results were consistent with the hypothesised reduced chance for wind-transported pollen reaching conspecific flowers in species-rich communities, fewer constraints on nectar production in warm and wet habitats, and reduced relative effectiveness of wind dispersal in humid areas. There was little evidence of a legacy of historical climate change affecting these patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Ecology & Diversity
Issue number3
Early online date9 Sep 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Sep 2016


  • Abiotic
  • biotic
  • community ecology
  • forest
  • mutualism
  • open vegetation
  • pollen dispersal
  • precipitation
  • species richness
  • temperature


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