Corolla herbivory, pollination success and fruit predation in complex flowers: an experimental study with Linaria lilacina (Scrophulariaceae).
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Herbivory on floral structures has been postulated to influence the evolution of floral traits in some plant species, and may also be an important factor influencing the occurrence and outcome of subsequent biotic interactions related to floral display. In particular, corolla herbivory may affect structures differentially involved in flower selection by pollinators and fruit predators (specifically, those ovopositing in ovaries prior to fruit development); hence floral herbivores may influence the relationships between these mutualistic and antagonistic agents. METHODS:The effects of corolla herbivory in Linaria lilacina (Scrophulariaceae), a plant species with complex flowers, were considered in relation to plant interactions with pollinators and fruit predators. Tests were made as to whether experimentally created differences in flower structure (resembling those occurring naturally) may translate into differences in reproductive output in terms of fruit or seed production. KEY RESULTS:Flowers with modified corollas, particularly those with lower lips removed, were less likely to be selected by pollinators than control flowers, and were less likely to be successfully visited and pollinated. As a consequence, fruit production was also less likely in these modified flowers. However, none of the experimental treatments affected the likelihood of visitation by fruit predators. CONCLUSIONS:Since floral herbivory may affect pollinator visitation rates and reduce seed production, differences among plants in the proportion of flowers affected by herbivory and in the intensity of the damage inflicted on affected flowers may result in different opportunities for reproduction for plants in different seasons.
Project description:Floral attributes often influence the foraging choices of nectar-feeding butterflies, given the close association between plants and these butterfly pollinators. The diversity of butterflies is known to a large extent in Nepal, but little information is available on the feeding habits of butterflies. This study was conducted along the periphery of Rupa Wetland from January to December 2019 to assess butterfly species diversity and to identify the factors influencing their foraging choices. In total, we recorded 1535 individuals of 138 species representing all six families. For our examination of butterfly-nectar plant interactions, we recorded a total of 298 individuals belonging to 31 species of butterfly visiting a total of 28 nectar plant species. Overall, total butterfly visitation was found to be significantly influenced by plant category (herbaceous preferred over woody), floral color (yellow white and purple preferred over pink), and corolla type (tubular preferred over nontubular). Moreover, there was a significant positive correlation between the proboscis length of butterflies and the corolla tube length of flowers. Examining each butterfly family separately revealed that, for four of the families (Lycaenidae, Nymphalidae, Papilionidae, and Pieridae), none of the tested factors (flower color, plant category, and corolla type) were shown to significantly influence butterfly abundance at flowers. However, Hesperidae abundance was found to be significantly influenced by both flower color (with more butterflies observed at yellow flowers than purple) and flower type (with more butterflies observed at tubular flowers than nontubular flowers). Our results reveal that Rupa Lake is a suitable habitat for butterflies, providing valuable floral resources. Hence, further detailed studies encompassing all seasons, a greater variety of plants, and other influential factors in different ecological regions are fundamental for creating favorable environments to sustain important butterfly pollinators and help create balanced wetland ecosystems.
Project description:Floral herbivory may have deleterious effects on the reproductive success of flowering plants. However, plants may evolve floral traits that allow them to defend against herbivory in particular conditions. A bumblebee-pollinated subalpine herb, Pedicularis rex (Orobanchaceae), endemic to southwest China, has cup-like bracts that fill with rainwater, which submerges its corolla tubes. We hypothesized that these water-filled cupulate bracts function to deter nectar robbers and/or seed herbivores. To test these hypotheses, we experimentally drained bracts and measured both the response of mutualistic floral visitors and antagonistic nectar robbers and seed predators and their effects on seed production. Our observations revealed that neither nectar robbers nor legitimate pollinators discriminated between water-drained flowers and intact controls. However, seed predation significantly increased in drained flowers, suggesting that water-filled bracts help protect the flowers from seed herbivores. The water-filled bracts in P. rex may represent an adaptation to reduce floral herbivory in a high-rainfall environment.
Project description:Inbreeding in plants typically reduces individual fitness but may also alter ecological interactions. This study examined the effect of inbreeding in the mixed-mating annual Mimulus guttatus on visitation by pollinators (Bombus impatiens) in greenhouse experiments. Previous studies of M. guttatus have shown that inbreeding reduced corolla size, flower number, and pollen quantity and quality. Using controlled crosses, we produced inbred and outbred families from three different M. guttatus populations. We recorded the plant genotypes that bees visited and the number of flowers probed per visit. In our first experiment, bees were 31% more likely to visit outbred plants than those selfed for one generation and 43% more likely to visit outbred plants than those selfed for two generations. Inbreeding had only a small effect on the number of flowers probed once bees arrived at a genotype. These differences were explained partially by differences in mean floral display and mean flower size, but even when these variables were controlled statistically, the effect of inbreeding remained large and significant. In a second experiment we quantified pollen viability from inbred and self plants. Bees were 37-54% more likely to visit outbred plants, depending on the population, even when controlling for floral display size. Pollen viability proved to be as important as floral display in predicting pollinator visitation in one population, but the overall explanatory power of a multiple regression model was weak. Our data suggested that bees use cues in addition to display size, flower size, and pollen reward quality in their discrimination of inbred plants. Discrimination against inbred plants could have effects on plant fitness and thereby reinforce selection for outcrossing. Inbreeding in plant populations could also reduce resource quality for pollinators, potentially resulting in negative effects on pollinator populations.
Project description:Plant responses induced by herbivore damage can provide fitness benefits, but can also have important costs due to altered interactions with mutualist pollinators. We examined the effects of plant responses to herbivory in a hummingbird-pollinated distylous shrub, Palicourea angustifolia. Through a series of field experiments we investigated whether damage from foliar herbivores leads to a reduction in fruit set, influences floral visitation, or alters floral traits that may influence pollinator preference or pollinator efficiency. Foliar herbivory by a generalist grasshopper led to reduced fruit set in branches that were directly damaged as well as in adjacent undamaged branches on the same plant. Furthermore, herbivory resulted in reduced floral visitation from two common hummingbird species and two bee species. An investigation into the potential mechanisms behind reduced floral visitation in induced plants showed that foliar herbivore damage resulted in shorter styles and lower nectar volumes. This reduction in style length could reduce pollen deposition between different floral morphs that is required for optimal pollination in a distylous plant. We did not detect any differences in the volatile blends released by damaged and undamaged branches, suggesting that foliar herbivore-induced changes in floral morphology and rewards, and not volatile blends, are the primary mechanism mediating changes in visitation. Our results provide novel mechanisms for how plant responses induced by foliar herbivores can lead to ecological costs.
Project description:Abundance and visitation of pollinator assemblages tend to decrease with altitude, leading to an increase in pollen limitation. Thus increased competition for pollinators may generate stronger selection on attractive traits of flowers at high elevations and cause floral adaptive evolution. Few studies have related geographically variable selection from pollinators and intraspecific floral differentiation. We investigated the variation of Trollius ranunculoides flowers and its pollinators along an altitudinal gradient on the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and measured phenotypic selection by pollinators on floral traits across populations. The results showed significant decline of visitation rate of bees along altitudinal gradients, while flies was unchanged. When fitness is estimated by the visitation rate rather than the seed number per plant, phenotypic selection on the sepal length and width shows a significant correlation between the selection strength and the altitude, with stronger selection at higher altitudes. However, significant decreases in the sepal length and width of T. ranunculoides along the altitudinal gradient did not correspond to stronger selection of pollinators. In contrast to the pollinator visitation, mean annual precipitation negatively affected the sepal length and width, and contributed more to geographical variation in measured floral traits than the visitation rate of pollinators. Therefore, the sepal size may have been influenced by conflicting selection pressures from biotic and abiotic selective agents. This study supports the hypothesis that lower pollinator availability at high altitude can intensify selection on flower attractive traits, but abiotic selection is preventing a response to selection from pollinators.
Project description:Corolla chirality, the pinwheel arrangement of petals within a flower, is found throughout the core eudicots. In 15 families, different chiral type flowers (i.e., right or left rotated corolla) exist on the same plant, and this condition is referred to as unfixed/enantiomorphic corolla chirality. There are no investigations on the significance of unfixed floral chirality on directed pollen movement even though analogous mirror image floral designs, for example, enantiostyly, has evolved in response to selection to direct pollinator and pollen movement. Here, we examine the role of corolla chirality on directing pollen transfer, pollinator behavior, and its potential influence on disassortative mating. We quantified pollen transfer and pollinator behavior and movement for both right and left rotated flowers in two populations of Hypericum perforatum. In addition, we quantified the number of right and left rotated flowers at the individual level. Pollinators were indifferent to corolla chirality resulting in no difference in pollen deposition between right and left flowers. Corolla chirality had no effect on pollinator and pollen movement between and within chiral morphs. Unlike other mirror image floral designs, corolla chirality appears to play no role in promoting disassortative mating in this species.
Project description:Knowledge on how the timing of flowering is related to plant fitness and species interactions is crucial to understand consequences of phenological shifts as they occur under climate change. Early flowering plants may face advantages of low competition for pollinators and disadvantages of low pollinator abundances and unfavourable weather conditions. However, it is unknown how this trade-off changes over the season and how the timing affects reproductive success. On eight grasslands we recorded intra-seasonal changes in pollinators, co-flowering plants, weather conditions, flower visitation rates, floral longevity and seed set of Pulsatilla vulgaris. Although bee abundances and the number of pollinator-suitable hours were low at the beginning of the season, early flowers of P. vulgaris received higher flower visitation rates and estimated total number of bee visits than later flowers, which was positively related to seed set. Flower visitation rates decreased over time and with increasing number of co-flowering plants, which competed with P. vulgaris for pollinators. Low interspecific competition for pollinators seems to be a major driver for early flowering dates. Thus, non-synchronous temporal shifts of co-flowering plants as they may occur under climate warming can be expected to strongly affect plant-pollinator interactions and the fitness of the involved plants.
Project description:Background and Aims:Plant-pollinator interactions shape the evolution of flowers. Floral attraction and reward traits have often been shown to affect pollinator behaviour, but the possible effect of efficiency traits on visitation behaviour has rarely been addressed. Anther position, usually considered a trait that influences efficiency of pollen deposition on pollinators, was tested here for its effect on pollinator visitation rates and visit duration in flowers of wild radish, Raphanus raphanistrum . Methods:Artificial selection lines from two experiments that expanded the naturally occurring phenotypic variation in anther position were used. In one experiment, plant lines were selected either to increase or to decrease anther exsertion. The other experiment decreased anther dimorphism, which resulted in increased short stamen exsertion. The hypothesis was that increased exsertion would increase visitation of pollen foragers due to increased visual attraction. Another hypothesis was that exsertion of anthers above the corolla would interfere with nectar foragers and increase the duration of visit per flower. Key Results:In the exsertion selection experiment, increased exsertion of both short and long stamens resulted in an increased number of fly visits per plant, and in the dimorphism experiment bee visits increased with increased short stamen exsertion. The duration of visits of nectar feeders declined significantly with increasing long stamen exsertion, which was opposite to the hypothesis. Conclusions:Until now, anther position was considered to be an efficiency trait to enhance pollen uptake and deposition. Anther position in wild radish is shown here also to have an ecological significance in attracting pollen foragers. This study suggests an additional adaptive role for anther position beyond efficiency, and highlights the multiple ecological functions of floral traits in plant-pollinator interactions.
Project description:The main selective force driving floral evolution and diversity is plant-pollinator interactions. Pollinators use floral signals and indirect cues to assess flower reward, and the ensuing flower choice has major implications for plant fitness. While many pollinator behaviors have been described, the impact of parasites on pollinator foraging decisions and plant-pollinator interactions have been largely overlooked. Growing evidence of the transmission of parasites through the shared-use of flowers by pollinators demonstrate the importance of behavioral immunity (altered behaviors that enhance parasite resistance) to pollinator health. During foraging bouts, pollinators can protect themselves against parasites through self-medication, disease avoidance, and grooming. Recent studies have documented immune behaviors in foraging pollinators, as well as the impacts of such behaviors on flower visitation. Because pollinator parasites can affect flower choice and pollen dispersal, they may ultimately impact flower fitness. Here, we discuss how pollinator immune behaviors and floral traits may affect the presence and transmission of pollinator parasites, as well as how pollinator parasites, through these immune behaviors, can impact plant-pollinator interactions. We further discuss how pollinator immune behaviors can impact plant fitness, and how floral traits may adapt to optimize plant fitness in response to pollinator parasites. We propose future research directions to assess the role of pollinator parasites in plant-pollinator interactions and evolution, and we propose better integration of the role of pollinator parasites into research related to pollinator optimal foraging theory, floral diversity and agricultural practices.
Project description:Seemingly mutualistic relationships can be exploited, in some cases reducing fitness of the exploited species. In plants, the insufficient receipt of pollen limits reproduction. While infrequent pollination commonly underlies pollen limitation (PL), frequent interactions with low-efficiency, exploitative pollinators may also cause PL. In the widespread protandrous herb Campanula americana, visitation by three pollinators explained 63% of the variation in PL among populations spanning the range. Bumblebees and the medium-sized Megachile campanulae enhanced reproductive success, but small solitary bees exacerbated PL. To dissect mechanisms behind these relationships, we scored sex-specific floral visitation, and the contributions of each pollinator to plant fitness using single flower visits. Small bees and M. campanulae overvisited male-phase flowers, but bumblebees frequently visited female-phase flowers. Fewer bumblebee visits were required to saturate seed set compared to other bees. Scaling pollinator efficiency metrics to populations, small bees deplete large amounts of pollen due to highly male-biased flower visitation and infrequent pollen deposition. Thus, small bees reduce plant reproduction by limiting pollen available for transfer by efficient pollinators, and appear to exploit the plant-pollinator mutualism, acting as functional parasites to C. americana It is therefore unlikely that small bees will compensate for reproductive failure in C. americana when bumblebees are scarce.