The Consequences of rewardlessness in orchids: Reward-supplementation experiments with Anacamptis morio (Orchidaceae)

Ann Smithson

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    Pollinators are expected to respond to low reward availability in an inflorescence by visiting fewer flowers before departure, thus potentially causing reduced visitation, but also reduced geitonogamous selfing. I tested this hypothesis using Anacamptis morio, an orchid that does not reward its pollinators. Supplementation of inflorescences with artificial nectar did not result in an increase in fruit set on supplemented inflorescences compared to control inflorescences and tended to reduce pollinia removal. Supplementation resulted in reduced fruit quality, but there was no evidence that this was as a result of inbreeding depression. Behavioral experiments showed that pollinating humble bees, as predicted, visited more flowers on supplemented inflorescences. Bumble bees also deposited more self-pollen on supplemented inflorescences, but this was marginally significant. Bumble bee queens removed significantly more pollinia from control inflorescences, while Bombus terrestris and B. lucorum workers did not. I conclude that while pollinators behaved as predicted, there was weak evidence that pollinia removal, pollen deposition, and fruit set followed the predictions of the hypothesis. I argue that this was probably because some pollinators were more efficient at removing and depositing pollen on control inflorescences, while others were not.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1579-1587
    JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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