Local floristic diversity has massively decreased during the twentieth century in Central Europe even though in the 1990s diversity began increasing again in several regions. However, little is known whether this increase is equally distributed among plant groups with different reproductive traits.


Our study is based on data of the Swiss Biodiversity Monitoring Program. In this program, plant species occurrence is recorded since 2001 in 450 regularly distributed 1 km 2 study sites. For all 1774 plant species registered in the study, we researched data on flower/pseudanthium type and colour, reproductive system, and groups of flower visitors. We then tested whether temporal changes in species frequency were equally distributed among species with different trait states.


Species richness and functional richness significantly increased in the study sites while functional evenness decreased. The frequency of wind-pollinated species increased more strongly than that of insect-pollinated species. Further, the frequency of species with simple, open insect-pollinated flowers and pseudanthia visited by generalist groups of insects increased slightly more strongly than the frequency of species with complex flowers visited by more specialized groups of flower visitors. Additionally, the frequency of self-compatible species increased significantly more than that of self-incompatible species. Thus, the overall increase in local plant species richness in Switzerland is mostly driven by wind- and generalist insect-pollinated, self-compatible species. In contrast, species with complex flowers, which are essential for specialized groups of flower visitors and species with self-incompatible reproductive systems profited less.


Our study thus emphasizes the need to consider functional traits in the planning and monitoring of conservation activities, and calls for a special focus on plant species with specialized reproductive traits. Keywords: Evenness, Floristic change, Flower colour, Flower type, Functional diversity, Pollination, Reproductive ecology, Self-incompatibility

Abrahamczyk, S., Kessler, M., Roth, T., & Heer, N. (2022). Temporal changes in the Swiss flora: Implications for flower-visiting insects. BMC Ecology and Evolution, 22(1), 109.