Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pollination syndromes (or not)

A bee that's not following the rules. For an explanation see 'Bees use achromatic contrast to see red.'

‘Pollination syndromes’ are suites of phenotypic traits reflecting convergent adaptations of flowers for pollination by specific types of animals. It's easy to find examples that fit the theory but are the syndromes testable?

In a 2009 paper in Annals of Botany Jeff Ollerton and colleagues use flowers from six communities on three continents and score them for the expression of floral traits used in published descriptions of the pollination syndromes. They then compare these to the actual pollinators.

Bottom line:

(I)n approximately two-thirds of plant species, the most common pollinator could not be successfully predicted by assuming that each plant species belongs to the syndrome closest to it in phenotype space.

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