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Experimental warming reduced the volume and increased the sugar concentration in the nectar of two flowering plant species, with implications for pollinator-plant communities in sagebrush meadows of the western U.S.

Plant-animal relationships that involve nectar production and consumption are expected to be sensitive to climate change. Nectar consuming animals are often important pollinators, and changes in nectar characteristics have the potential to change the plant-pollinator systems that form the base of many food chains. USGS and university scientists measured changes in nectar characteristics of two native flowering plants, arrowleaf balsamroot and sulphur flower, after experimental warming in a high-elevation sagebrush meadow in the Teton Range of Wyoming. Warming reduced the nectar volume and increased the sugar concentration in both species. Warming also resulted in an increase in the number of flowers produced by arrowleaf balsamroot. Different nectar feeding animals have different needs depending on mouth and body shape and energy and water requirements. Changes in nectar traits and the total amount of nectar offered in meadows could disrupt ecosystem stability. 

McCombs, A.L., Debinski, D.M., Reinhardt, K., Germino, M.J., and Caragea, P.C., 2022, Warming temperatures affect meadow-wide nectar resources, with implications for plant-pollinator communities: Ecosphere, v. 13, no. 7, e4162. 

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