Pollinator availability and pollinator spectra

Alpine plants and their pollinators

Follow the image links to explore the various groups of pollinators.

1 - The most important insect groups pollinating alpine flowers are bees, bumblebees, butterflies, flies and syrphid flies.
Pulsatilla vernalis Phyteuma Silene acaulis Silene acaulis Doronicum Geum reptans

Pollinators prefer sunny days

The visiting rate of pollinators to flowers at high altitudes is strongly influenced by quickly changing weather conditions. Under a completely overcast sky, flower visits may be nil, while on a sunny day pollinators are abundant. For instance, on a bright day above 2200 m, Müller (1881), the first naturalist to study pollinators in alpine habitats, counted 93 insect species as flower visitors on 60 different plant species.

Measured visiting rates of pollinators to flowers are substantially lower at high altitudes. Nevertheless, pollination efficiency may be similar to that in the lowland, because alpine flowers may compensate for fewer visits with a longer flowering time.

Shifts in pollinator spectra with altitude

In contrast to the number of insect species, the pollinator spectrum definitely does change with elevation because of different energy requirements of pollinator groups: