University of Oulu

Benadi, G., Kögel, R., Lämsä, J. et al. Temporal variation of floral reward can improve the pollination success of a rare flowering plant. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 17, 765–776 (2023).

Temporal variation of floral reward can improve the pollination success of a rare flowering plant

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Author: Benadi, Gita1; Kögel, Raphael1; Lämsä, Juho2;
Organizations: 1Biometry and Environmental System Analysis, University of Freiburg, Tennenbacherstraße 4, 79106 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
2Oulanka Research Station, University of Oulu, Liikasenvaarantie 134, 93900 Kuusamo, Finland
3Department of Biology, UMASS Dartmouth, 285 Old Westport Road, Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300, USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-11-09


Many pollinating animals visit a variety of flowering plant species. Rare plant species pollinated by such generalists may experience a low quality or quantity of pollination, depending on the pollinators’ foraging behaviour. How plants cope with this rarity disadvantage is not well understood. One possibility would be to offer a higher floral reward, for example, a higher nectar sugar concentration. However, since nectar production is costly, rare plants may only be able to increase their nectar concentration for a limited time and offer little reward afterwards. In this study, we performed a laboratory experiment with bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) foraging on artificial flowers of two colours to investigate whether the bees’ foraging behaviour produces a rarity disadvantage and if so, whether the rare flower type could improve its pollination success through temporal variation of its nectar sugar concentration, i.e. a temporary increase of nectar sugar followed by a period with low concentration. We found that when both flower colours offered equal rewards, the rare colour received only slightly fewer visits per flower, but had a considerably lower expected pollination success based on the bumblebees’ visitation sequences. Temporal variation of the rare colour’s sugar concentration increased both the quantity and quality of visits it received. This positive effect was reduced when there were fewer rare flowers or when two bumblebees foraged simultaneously. Our results suggest that temporal variation of floral rewards can alleviate, but not completely eliminate the rarity disadvantage.

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Series: Arthropod-plant interactions
ISSN: 1872-8855
ISSN-E: 1872-8847
ISSN-L: 1872-8855
Volume: 17
Issue: 6
Pages: 765 - 776
DOI: 10.1007/s11829-023-10007-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Grant No. 6231/1 to GB. Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.
Dataset Reference: The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit