loading page

Seeing through the static: The temporal dimension of plant–animal mutualistic interactions
  • +11
  • Paul CaraDonna,
  • Laura Burkle,
  • Benjamin Schwarz,
  • Julian Resasco,
  • Tiffany Knight,
  • Gita Benadi,
  • Nico Bluthgen,
  • Carsten Dormann,
  • Qiang Fang,
  • Jochen Fründ,
  • Benoit Gauzens,
  • Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury,
  • Rachael Winfree,
  • Diego Vazquez
Paul CaraDonna
Chicago Botanic Garden

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Laura Burkle
Montana State University
Author Profile
Benjamin Schwarz
University of Freiburg
Author Profile
Julian Resasco
University of Colorado
Author Profile
Tiffany Knight
, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
Author Profile
Gita Benadi
University of Freiburg
Author Profile
Nico Bluthgen
TU Darmstadt
Author Profile
Carsten Dormann
University of Freiburg
Author Profile
Qiang Fang
Henan University of Science and Technology
Author Profile
Jochen Fründ
University of Guelph
Author Profile
Benoit Gauzens
Author Profile
Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury
University of Exeter
Author Profile
Rachael Winfree
Rutgers University
Author Profile
Diego Vazquez
Author Profile


Most studies of plant--animal mutualistic networks have been temporally static. This approach has revealed many general patterns in the structure of complex webs of mutualistic interactions, but limits our ability to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape these networks, and to predict the consequences of natural and human-driven disturbance on species interactions. The growing availability of temporally explicit data is allowing ecologists to move beyond this static perspective. We review the growing literature dealing with temporal dynamics in plant--animal mutualistic networks including pollination, seed dispersal and ant defence mutualisms. We identify general patterns of temporal variation in these networks across temporal scales. We discuss potential mechanisms underlying variation in interactions, ranging from behavioural and physiological processes at the narrowest temporal scales to ecological and evolutionary processes operating over much broader temporal scales. We conclude by discussing priorities for future research, including an improved understanding of the abiotic and biotic factors driving temporal network change, and further development and refinement of analytical tools. Our review highlights the key role of the importance of considering the temporal dimension for our understanding of the ecology and evolution of complex webs of mutualistic interactions.
20 May 2020Submitted to Ecology Letters
20 May 2020Submission Checks Completed
20 May 2020Assigned to Editor
25 May 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
03 Jul 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
03 Jul 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Major
25 Aug 20201st Revision Received
25 Aug 2020Submission Checks Completed
25 Aug 2020Assigned to Editor
26 Aug 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
16 Sep 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
17 Sep 2020Editorial Decision: Accept
Jan 2021Published in Ecology Letters volume 24 issue 1 on pages 149-161. 10.1111/ele.13623