Declines in pollinating insects and wildflowers have been well documented in recent years.
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"Climate change is an emerging threat to insect pollinators and their food plants, but little is known about how whole communities of interacting species will be affected or what impacts there may be on ecosystem services such as pollination", Ellen D. Moss and Darren M. Evans write.
"Using a novel open-air field experiment, we simulated an increase in temperature of 1.5°C and rainwater of 40% for two growing seasons to investigate how climate change may impact several within-field features of temperate arable agro-ecosystems: wildflower floral resources; insect visitation; flower-visitor network structure; and wildflower seed set. Experimental warming reduced total floral abundance by nearly 40%, and nectar volumes by over 60% for two species.
"Our study demonstrates the negative consequences that climate-warming might have on wildflowers and flower-visiting insects in arable farming systems, but it also highlights the need for more experimental field studies considering how climate change may affect species interactions, flowering, and seed set of wildflowers.
"The considerable inter-annual variation found in the plant and insect communities here also demonstrates the need for longer-term investigations and for greater temporal consideration.
"We have shown that a 1.5°C increase in temperature can have very large effects upon floral resources, wildflower reproduction, and interaction network complexity, and that such impacts are not offset when water is increased.
"Our findings also highlight that different species respond to changing climatic conditions very differently, with one species of common generalist weed thriving, while two rare specialist cornfield annuals failed to reproduce as effectively.
"We simulated representative increases in temperature and precipitation, but not CO2, which is an important factor that should also be included in future investigations." < ■