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Floral Mimicry Enhances Pollen Export: The Evolution of Pollination by Sexual Deceit Outside of the Orchidaceae

Allan G. Ellis and Steven D. Johnson
The American Naturalist
Vol. 176, No. 5 (November 2010), pp. E143-E151
DOI: 10.1086/656487
Stable URL:
Page Count: 9
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Abstract: Although the majority of flowering plants achieve pollination by exploiting the food‐seeking behavior of animals, some use alternative ploys that exploit their mate‐seeking behavior. Sexual deception is currently known only from the Orchidaceae and almost always involves pollination by male hymenoptera. An outstanding problem has been to identify the selective factors in plants that favor exploitation of mating versus feeding behaviors in pollinators. Here we show that the insectlike petal ornaments on inflorescences of the daisy Gorteria diffusa elicit copulation attempts from male bombyliid flies and that the intensity of the mating response varies across geographical floral morphotypes, suggesting a continuum in reliance on feeding through mating responses for pollination. Using pollen analogues applied to a morphotype with prominent insectlike petal ornaments, we demonstrate that mate‐seeking male flies are several‐fold more active and export significantly more pollen than females. These results suggest that selection for traits that exploit insect mating behavior can occur through the male component of plant fitness and conclusively demonstrates pollination by sexual deception in Gorteria, making this the first confirmed report of sexual deception outside of the Orchidaceae.

Notes and References

This item contains 39 references.

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