Spatial and temporal dynamics of an insect pollinator community  in a high Andean ecosystem in southern Ecuador and its response to global change

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Insects fulfill essential roles in nature, and one of the most important and least understood  is pollination. The  Biotic pollination is the most common mutualism between plants and animals.  Its evolution is considered one of the key innovations that allowed the radiation of angiosperms,  since 90% of flowering plants depend on this interaction and in most cases this function is fulfilled by insects. The Andes are known for their high diversity and endemism, especially in the highlands (+3000 masl). But even though this  diversity has been the subject of research, there are still groups of organisms that have not been studied in depth, such as insects,  in which  basic information on its taxonomy, evolution, biogeography, ecological interactions and conservation  are scarce or absent. And although we know little about basic aspects, we know even less about interactions and ecological aspects, also in recent decades  Several threats affect this diversity, the main ones being  expansion of the agricultural frontier, use of pesticides, homogenization of the landscape,  species introduction  exotic  and global warming. That is why the study of  the community of pollinating insects in the highlands of the Andes is a priority issue worldwide.

Identify the relationships between insects and plants, their determinants,  the  dynamics of these in the  time and space and the potential effect of global change are the main objectives of our project, that is why we are  sampling  bimonthly insects of two orders  (Hymenoptera and Diptera), using the color plate technique, for this 10 sampling stations have been defined along a 1 km transect in a  ecosystem  high Andean with an altitude range that goes from 2850 m to  2950 m in the south of the equator. In this ecosystem and in each of the sampling stations we are  recording temperature data,  Precipitation, Relative Humidity,  Solar radiation,   speed and  address  of the Wind and Resource (richness and abundance of flowers present in a radius of 5m on each side of the sampling stations).  This project started in March 2017 and we hope to continue  For several  more years, to understand in greater depth these  interactions, their dynamics and project the future  effect of change  overall about these.  

Publications:

2. J.L. Knowlton, R.C. Crafford, B.A. Tinoco, P.S. Padrón, and E.E. Wilson Rankind

High foraging fidelity and plant-pollinator network dominance of non-native honey bees (Apis mellifera) in the Ecuadorian Andes. Neotropical Entomology.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13744-022-00967-6.

1. P.S. Padrón, C.B. Vásquez, S.C. Durán, K.V. Pezo, N.A. Loyola and A. Junghanns. 2020. Use of colored pan traps methodology for monitoring insect diversity (Diptera and Hymenoptera) in the Southern Tropical Andes of Ecuador.International Journal of Tropical Insect Science. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42690-020-00252-2.

Methodology used to collect pollinators, and photos from the resource guide we used to record the richness and  abundance of flowers in the sampling stations