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Mauritian coloured nectar no longer a mystery: a visual signal for lizard pollinators


Hansen, D M; Beer, K; Mueller, C B (2006). Mauritian coloured nectar no longer a mystery: a visual signal for lizard pollinators. Biology Letters, 2(2):165-168.

Abstract

Most floral nectars are clear as water, and the enigmatic coloured nectar in three endemic plant species in Mauritius has puzzled scientists studying it. One hypothesis about the possible ecological function of coloured nectar is that it serves as a visual signal for pollinators. Recent studies have shown that at least two of the three Mauritian plant species with coloured nectar are visited and pollinated by endemic Phelsuma geckos. We here provide experimental evidence for the visual signal hypothesis by showing that Phelsuma ornata geckos prefer coloured over clear nectar in artificial flowers. In flowering plants, coloured nectar could additionally function as an honest signal that allows pollinators to assert the presence and judge the size of a reward prior to flower visitation, and to adjust their behaviour accordingly, leading to increased pollinator efficiency. Our study provides a first step in understanding this rare and intriguing floral trait.

Most floral nectars are clear as water, and the enigmatic coloured nectar in three endemic plant species in Mauritius has puzzled scientists studying it. One hypothesis about the possible ecological function of coloured nectar is that it serves as a visual signal for pollinators. Recent studies have shown that at least two of the three Mauritian plant species with coloured nectar are visited and pollinated by endemic Phelsuma geckos. We here provide experimental evidence for the visual signal hypothesis by showing that Phelsuma ornata geckos prefer coloured over clear nectar in artificial flowers. In flowering plants, coloured nectar could additionally function as an honest signal that allows pollinators to assert the presence and judge the size of a reward prior to flower visitation, and to adjust their behaviour accordingly, leading to increased pollinator efficiency. Our study provides a first step in understanding this rare and intriguing floral trait.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:22 June 2006
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:28
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:21
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:1744-9561
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:10.1098/rsbl.2006.0458
Official URL:http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/2/2/165.full.pdf+html
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-2113

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