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Evolutionary changes in nectar sugar composition associated with switches between bird and insect pollination: the Canarian bird-flower element revisited


Dupont, Y L; Hansen, D M; Rasmussen, J T; Olesen, J M (2004). Evolutionary changes in nectar sugar composition associated with switches between bird and insect pollination: the Canarian bird-flower element revisited. Functional Ecology, 18(5):670-676.

Abstract

The bird-flower element of the Canary Islands is a group of endemic plants having traits characteristic of bird pollination, and some are visited by opportunistically nectar-feeding passerine birds. 2. We investigated evolutionary changes in nectar sugar composition in seven Canarian lineages of ornithophilous plant species and their entomophilous relatives. 3. We hypothesized that nectar sugar composition evolved in response to the main pollinator group of a plant. Specialist nectarivores can assimilate sucrose, whereas some opportunistic nectar-feeders digest only the simple hexoses. 4. Sugar composition of nectars was analysed using high pH anion exchange chromatography. 5. Evolution of nectar type was correlated with mode of pollination. Generally, sucrose nectars were associated with insect visitation and hexose nectars with bird visitation. Nectar sugar composition was an evolutionary labile trait within a lineage. Hence, nectar characteristics may have evolved readily, perhaps in response to opportunistically nectarivorous birds living in Canary Islands.

Abstract

The bird-flower element of the Canary Islands is a group of endemic plants having traits characteristic of bird pollination, and some are visited by opportunistically nectar-feeding passerine birds. 2. We investigated evolutionary changes in nectar sugar composition in seven Canarian lineages of ornithophilous plant species and their entomophilous relatives. 3. We hypothesized that nectar sugar composition evolved in response to the main pollinator group of a plant. Specialist nectarivores can assimilate sucrose, whereas some opportunistic nectar-feeders digest only the simple hexoses. 4. Sugar composition of nectars was analysed using high pH anion exchange chromatography. 5. Evolution of nectar type was correlated with mode of pollination. Generally, sucrose nectars were associated with insect visitation and hexose nectars with bird visitation. Nectar sugar composition was an evolutionary labile trait within a lineage. Hence, nectar characteristics may have evolved readily, perhaps in response to opportunistically nectarivorous birds living in Canary Islands.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not 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:2004
Deposited On:11 Jul 2012 16:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:45
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0269-8463
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0269-8463.2004.00891.x
Other Identification Number:Accession Number: WOS:000224000900007

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