The resilience of ecosystems depends on the diversity of species and their specific responses to environmental variation. Here we show that the diversity of climatic responses across species contributes to a higher projected resilience of species-rich pollinator communities in real-world ecosystems despite land-use intensification. We determined the thermal niche of 511 pollinator species (flies, bees, beetles and butterflies) in 40 grasslands. Species in intensively used grasslands have broader thermal niches and are also more complementary in their thermal optima. The observed increase in thermal resilience with land-use intensification is mainly driven by the dominant flies that prefer cooler temperatures and compensate for losses of other taxa. Temperature explained 84% of the variation in pollinator activity across species and sites. Given the key role of temperature, quantifying the diversity of thermal responses within functional groups is a promising approach to assess the vulnerability of ecosystems to land-use intensification and climate change.
How variation in species responses to climate may influence the resilience of ecological communities to environmental change is not fully understood. Here, the authors characterize the thermal niches of insect pollinator communities and show that resilience increases along a gradient of land-use intensity.