Floral diversity and the facilitation of pollination


Present address and correspondence: Jaboury Ghazoul, Department of Environmental Sciences, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland (e-mail jaboury.ghazoul@env.ethz.ch).


  • 1 Multiple-species floral displays have been hypothesized to facilitate pollination by attracting a greater number and/or diversity of pollinators. Here I present experimental confirmation of pollination facilitation among coflowering plants that have morphologically distinct flowers.
  • 2 Pollinator visits to Raphanus raphanistrum, a self-incompatible herbaceous plant, increased when it occurred with one or a combination of Cirsium arvense, Hypericum perforatum and Solidago canadensis than when it occurred alone.
  • 3 Enhanced visitation to R. raphanistrum in mixed species plots was reflected by increased seed production.
  • 4 Facilitative effects in pollination were conditional on the density and evenness of the floral mixture and graded into competition as the relative abundance of R. raphanistrum declined in a two-species mixture.
  • 5 Previously proposed mechanisms for facilitative interactions cannot explain facilitation among florally distinct plant displays. An alternative mechanism of differential but complementary floral rewards is proposed to explain facilitative attraction of pollinators.
  • 6 Facilitation of, and competition for, pollination has implications for regeneration by seed of rare or isolated plants, and of mitigating Allee effects that afflict such populations.