Macroecology and macroevolution of plant-pollinator interactions: pattern and process at large geographical and temporal scales

Event type: 
12 December 2019


Prof Jeff Ollerton
University of Northampton
Prof Angela Moles

Plant-pollinator relationships are an ecologically critical form of interaction that ensures the long-term survival of the majority of the world’s plants species, and contribute to a large fraction of global agricultural output. In addition the diversity and abundance of biotically pollinated plant species can be an important determinant of the diversity of animals at higher trophic levels. 

Despite that global significance, most studies of plant-pollinator interactions are done at a local level, involving populations and communities of species, over modest time scales. The ways in which these local sets of interactions scale up to produce global macroecological and macroevolutionary patterns, and the processes underpinning them, will be explored using two case studies. 

The first investigated the roles of biotic and abiotic factors as determinants of the global variation in animal versus wind pollination. Factors such as habitat type, species richness, insularity, topographic heterogeneity, current climate and late-Quaternary climate change were investigated (see: Rech et al. 2016 - Plant Ecology & Diversity 9: 253-262).

The second case study uses a newly assembled database of pollinators of the family Apocynaceae (one of the ten largest families of flowering plants), supported by a molecular phylogeny of the major clades.  This database has been used to explore phylogenetic and biogeographic patterns of pollinator exploitation (Ollerton et al. 2019 - Annals of Botany 123: 311-325). 


Bio: Jeff Ollerton is Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Northampton in the UK. As a professional scientist and educator for almost 30 years Jeff has developed an international profile in the field of biodiversity, focused particularly on understanding and conserving plant-pollinator interactions.  This has led to research collaborations spanning many countries across all continents, funded by a range of UK and international agencies and charities.  In addition to undertaking research and teaching he is in demand as an advisor for governments, media, and charities, and lectures and writes for the general public as well as his peers. To date he has published 115 peer reviewed research papers, book chapters and edited volumes, as well as more popular articles, book reviews, and essays. Journals publishing his work include Nature, Science, Ecology, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, and Ecology Letters.  He is currently completing a book entitled Pollinators and Pollination: nature and society, which is due for publication in spring 2020.