Soil moisture affects plant-pollinator interactions in an annual flowering plant

Wenfei Dai, Yulian Yang, Harland M. Patch, Christina M. Grozinger, Junpeng Mu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Many environmental factors impact plant and pollinator communities. However, variation in soil moisture and how it mediates the plant-pollinator interactions has yet to be elucidated. We hypothesized that long-term variation in soil moisture can exert a strong selective pressure on the floral and vegetative traits of plants, leading to changes in pollinator visitation. We demonstrated that there are three phenotypic populations of Gentiana aristata in our study alpine region in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau that vary in floral colour and other traits. Pink (dry habitat) and blue (intermediate habitat) flower populations are visited primarily by bumblebees, and white (wet habitat) flower populations are visited by flies. These patterns of visitation are driven by vegetative and floral traits and are constant when non-endemic plants are placed in the intermediate habitats. Additionally, the floral communities in different habitats vary, with more insectpollinated forbs in the dry and intermediate habitats versus the wet habitats. Through a common garden and reciprocal transplant experiment, we demonstrated that plant growth traits, pollinator attractiveness and seed production are highest when the plant population is raised in its endemic habitat. This suggests that these plant populations have evolved to pollinator communities associated with habitat differences. This article is part of the theme issue 'Natural processes influencing pollinator health: From chemistry to landscapes'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210423
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1853
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Soil moisture affects plant-pollinator interactions in an annual flowering plant'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this