Arthropod-Plant Interactions

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 731–740 | Cite as

Plant–floral visitor network structure in a smallholder Cucurbitaceae agricultural system in the tropics: implications for the extinction of main floral visitors

  • Víctor Parra-Tabla
  • María José Campos-Navarrete
  • Gerardo Arceo-GómezEmail author
Original Paper


Animal pollination is responsible for the majority of the human food supply. Understanding pollination dynamics in agricultural systems is thus essential to help maintain this ecosystem service in the face of human disturbances. Surprisingly, our understanding of plant–pollinator interactions in widely distributed smallholder agricultural systems is still limited. Knowledge of pollination dynamics in these agricultural systems is necessary to fully assess how human disturbances may affect pollination services worldwide. In this study, we describe the structure of a plant–floral visitor network in a smallholder Cucurbitaceae agricultural system. We further identify the main floral visitors of these crops and tested their importance by simulating how their extinction affected network structure and robustness. The observed network was highly connected and generalized but it was neither nested nor compartmentalized. Our results suggest that the structure of agricultural plant–pollinator networks could be inherently different from those in natural communities. These differences in network structure may reflect differences in spatial distribution of floral resources between agricultural and natural systems. We identified Augochlora nigrocyanea and Peponapis limitaris as the two most frequent floral visitors. However, removal of these species did not affect network structure or its robustness, suggesting high levels of interaction rewiring. To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies to describe the structure of a plant–floral visitor network in diverse agricultural systems in the tropics. We emphasize the need for more studies that evaluate network structure in agricultural systems if we want to fully elucidate the impact of human disturbances on this key ecosystem service.


Crops Cucurbitaceae Interaction network Pollination Smallholder agriculture Tropics 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on this manuscript. We thank CONACyT-SISIERRA (950604), IFS (B2523-1) and FMCNAC (C2-96–263) for financial support to VPT; and CONACyT to GAG.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Tropical EcologyUnversity of YucatanMéridaMexico
  2. 2.División de Estudios de Posgrado e Investigación, Instituto Tecnológico de TizimínTecnológico Nacional de MéxicoTizimínMexico
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesEast Tennessee State UniversityJohnson CityUSA

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