Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (4): 495-506.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020196

Special Issue: 传粉生物学 昆虫多样性与生态功能

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effect of climate change on the distribution and phenology of plants, insect pollinators, and their interactions

Yuhan Shi1,2, Zongxin Ren1, Yanhui Zhao1, Hong Wang1,*()   

  1. 1 CAS Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2020-05-08 Accepted:2020-08-14 Online:2021-04-20 Published:2021-04-20
  • Contact: Hong Wang
  • About author:* E-mail:


Aim: The impact of global climate change on ecosystems creates a pressing and significant challenge to society. Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme climate events, which have a direct impact on ecosystem productivity and service functions. Here, we conducted a literature review on research progress in this field, including analyses of interaction network structure, temporal and spatial distribution changes, and the importance of “rewiring” interactive relationships and functional traits.

Progress: Recent research has focused on the effects that increasing temperatures have on plant-pollinators in two primary ways. The first is the change in plant and pollinator distributions, including the potential for extirpation of some populations. The second is the change in plant and pollinator phenology, or the change in timing of plant flowering and pollinator activity. Spatial or temporal changes in plants and pollinators under climate change may cause mismatches and potential losses of current plant-pollinator relationships. In addition, climate change may alter the functional traits and coupling between plants and their pollinators, which could affect the stability of their interactions.

Outlook: We recommend that future research should increasingly focus on: (1) covering multiple scales of biodiversity, (2) long-term monitoring of plant-pollinator interaction networks, (3) measuring the fitness of important indicator species, (4) recording changes in the functional traits of plants and pollinators along spatial and temporal scales to help rewire and/or restore their interactions, and (5) evaluating the conservation status of key plants and their pollinators.

Key words: climate change, plant-insect pollinators, distribution, phenology, mismatch, interaction