Image_3_Flower Conspicuousness to Bees Across Pollination Systems: A Generalized Test of the Bee-Avoidance Hypothesis.tiff (270.37 kB)
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Image_3_Flower Conspicuousness to Bees Across Pollination Systems: A Generalized Test of the Bee-Avoidance Hypothesis.tiff

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posted on 24.09.2020, 04:49 authored by Gabriel Coimbra, Carina Araujo, Pedro J. Bergamo, Leandro Freitas, Miguel A. Rodríguez-Gironés

Flower signals of bee- and bird-pollinated plants have converged via pollinator-mediated evolution, driven by the visual system of their respective pollinators. For bird flowers, sensory exclusion of less effective bees is also important and such exclusion is also mediated by floral morphological filters. Likewise, other systems based on pollination by red-sensitive insects are also associated with red flowers displaying lower short-wavelength secondary peaks of reflectance, which decreases detectability to animals that are less sensitive to red, such as bees. These flowers often also present long tubes. Here, we tested a generalization of the bee-avoidance hypothesis in order to assess if it holds only for bird flowers or for other non-bee pollination systems as well. For this, we compared flower contrasts and spectral purity in bee visual systems as proxies for conspicuousness among four kinds of pollination systems: bee-visited flowers, insect-visited flowers (including bees and other insects), non-bee insect flowers (flowers visited by red-sensitive insects such as flies, butterflies and beetles, but not bees), and bird-visited flowers. We also assessed the association between conspicuousness to bees and flower depth, used as a proxy for morphological exclusion of bees. Overall, flower conspicuousness to bees differed only between insect (all three groups) and bird flowers, due to lower visual signals for the latter. This suggests that bee sensory exclusion via color signals is exclusive to bird flowers, while non-bee insect flowers might use other sensory channels to exclude bees, such as olfactory signals. Visual bee avoidance might be a mechanism exclusive to plants pollinated by specific guilds of red-sensitive insects not well represented in our sample. We also found a negative association between flower conspicuousness to bees and flower depth, suggesting an interplay of morphological and spectral traits in discouraging bee visits. Our results support the bee-avoidance hypothesis exclusively for bird flowers and an overall association between lower visual signals to bees and long tubes.