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Differential impacts of urbanization on multiple components of common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) pollination success
  • David Rockow,
  • Carlos Martel,
  • Gerardo Arceo-Gómez
David Rockow
East Tennessee State University
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Carlos Martel
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
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Gerardo Arceo-Gómez
East Tennessee State University Department of Biological Sciences

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Urbanization is one the main threats to biodiversity and its effects are projected to increase in magnitude, hence stressing the importance to better understand how urbanization may affect vital ecosystem services, such as pollination. Studies on the impact of urbanization have largely focused on only one aspect of the pollination process (e.g. pollinator visitation, pollen deposition), potentially misrepresenting the full complexity of urbanization effects on pollination services. Evaluating impacts across multiple components of pollination can also help pinpoint the underlying mechanisms driving urbanization effects. This study evaluates how urbanization affects multiple aspects of the pollination process in common milkweed populations, including pollinator community composition and visitation rate, pollen removal and deposition on stigmas. Urbanization altered floral visitor composition, with small bees having a larger presence in urbanized areas. Insect visitation rate and pollen removal were also higher in more urbanized areas, perhaps suggesting a positive impact of urbanization as predicted by the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. However, pollen deposition on stigmas, which is a key component of fertilization success, was not different between natural and urbanized sites. Our findings highlight the complexity evaluating urbanization effects on pollination, as these likely depend on the specific aspect of pollination evaluated and on the of the intensity of disturbance. Our study thus stresses the importance of evaluating multiple components of the pollination process in order to fully understand overall effects and the mechanisms underlying urbanization effects on this vital ecosystem service
Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
15 Feb 2024Reviewer(s) Assigned
13 Mar 2024Editorial Decision: Revise Minor