POLLINATION SUCCESS IN A DECEPTIVE ORCHID IS ENHANCED BY CO-OCCURRING REWARDING MAGNET PLANTS

Authors


  • Corresponding Editor: L. F. Delph.

Abstract

It has been debated whether pollination success in nonrewarding plants that flower in association with nectar-producing plants will be diminished by competition for pollinator visits or, alternatively, enhanced through increased local abundance of pollinators (the magnet species effect). We experimentally evaluated these effects using the nonrewarding bumblebee-pollinated orchid Anacamptis morio and associated nectar-producing plants at a site in Sweden. Pollination success (estimated as pollen receipt and pollen removal) in A. morio was significantly greater for individuals translocated to patches of nectar-producing plants (Geum rivale and Allium schoenoprasum) than for individuals placed outside (∼20 m away) such patches. These results provide support for the existence of a facilitative magnet species effect in the interaction between certain nectar plants and A. morio. To determine the spatial scale of these interactions, we correlated the visitation rate to flowers of A. morio with the density of sympatric nectar plants in 1-m2 and 100-m2 plots centered around groups of translocated plants, and at the level of whole meadows (∼0.5–2 ha). Visitation rate to flowers of A. morio was not correlated with the 1-m2 patch density of G. rivale and A. schoenoprasum, but showed a significant positive relationship with density of these nectar plants in 100-m2 plots. In addition, visitation to flowers of A. morio was strongly and positively related to the density of A. schoenoprasum at the level of the meadow. Choice experiments showed that bees foraging on the purple flowers of A. schoenoprasum (a particularly effective magnet species) visit the purple flowers of A. morio more readily (47.6% of choices) than bees foraging on the yellow flowers of Lotus corniculatus (17% of choices). Overall similarity in flower color and shape may increase the probability that a pollinator will temporarily shift from a nectar-producing “magnet” plant to a nonrewarding plant. We discuss the possibility of a mimicry continuum between those orchids that exploit instinctive food-seeking behavior of pollinators and those that show an adaptive resemblance to nectar-producing plants.

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