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Causes and consequences of floral damage in Aconitum lycoctonum at high and low elevations in Switzerland
, Roy B.A.
, 2001. V. 127. No. 2. P. 266–273
Журнал с антэкологическими публикациями.
The outcomes of interactions among plants and the insects that use their flowers are likely to vary among the physical environments and the communities in which they grow. In this study we quantified floral damage of Aconitum lycoctonum in high (>2000 m) and low (c. 500 m) elevation populations in Switzerland. At high elevation, floral damage was frequent and was caused by nectar-robbing short-tongued bumblebees. Nectar robbers make a hole in the flower when they collect nectar. A nectar robber exclusion experiment showed that nectar robbery by short-tongued bumblebees had no effect on the female reproductive success of plants; robbing bees rarely damaged the nectaries, and damage to the petals probably does not decrease flower longevity. In addition, nectar robbers tended to collect pollen during about 10% of their visits. Thus, these bees may act as low-efficiency pollinators and may, at times, be mutualistic associates. At low elevation, the holes in the flowers were caused by beetles (Meligethes viridescens) and not by short-tongued bumblebees. The beetles eat pollen and might also consume nectar. Since the beetles gain access to pollen and nectar by entering the flower through its opening, and later chew holes while foraging on floral tissue, the beetles are pollen eaters rather than nectar robbers. Overall, our results show that not all floral damage is caused by nectar robbers and that there can be strong altitudinal variation in the causes and consequences of floral damage.