Материал из Антэкология /// Anthecology
Anther-mimicking Floral Guides Exploit a Conflict Between Innate Preference and Learning in Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris)
Bee-pollinated plants are frequently dichogamous: e.g. each flower has a discernable male and female phase, with only the male phase offering a pollen reward. Pollen-collecting bees should therefore discriminate against female-phase flowers to maximise their rate of pollen harvest, but this behaviour would reduce plant fitness due to inferior pollination. Here, we test the hypothesis that flowers use pollen-mimicking floral guides to prevent flower-phase discrimination. Such floral guides resemble pollen in spectral reflection properties and are widespread among angiosperm flowers. In an array of artificial flowers, bumblebees learned less well to discriminate between flower variants simulating different flowering phases when both flower variants carried an additional pollen-yellow guide mark. This effect depended crucially on the pollen-yellow colour of the guide mark and on its spatial position within the artificial flower. We suggest that floral guides evolved to inhibit flower-phase learning in bees by exploiting the innate colour preferences of their pollinators.