Specialized flowers for spe

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Published on December 12, 2007

Author: Fenwick

Source: authorstream.com

Specialized flowers for specialized bees:  Specialized flowers for specialized bees By Ted Pitsiokos and Preston Park Slide2:  Bees, wasps, butterflies, and moths are all insects that are entirely dependent on flowers for food in their adult stage. Over 65% of angiosperms are insect-pollinated and 20% of insects, at least at some stage, depend entirely on flowers for their food. Adaptations of flowers depend on what types of pollinators they prefer. Flowers’ Pollination:  Flowers’ Pollination Certain plants are wind pollinated. Their reproductive strategy is to produce lots of pollen in hopes that some will make it to the female part of the plant. These plants expend much energy in making pollen. Flowers’ Pollination (cont.):  Flowers’ Pollination (cont.) On the other hand, the plants that we examined depend on animals to spread their pollen. This is a mutualistic relationship where the plant and the pollinator benefit each other. The plant expends less energy on pollen production than wind pollinated plants and instead produces showy flowers, nectar, and/or odors. Some plants/flowers are more general in their pollinator attractions, while others are more specific. Stable OFS:  Stable OFS This mutualistic behavior of flowers attracting pollinators is a stable Optimum Foraging Strategy for both flowers and pollinators because: Bees on flowers find a protein/sugar mix, or nectar (produced by nectaries) and use it as food and shelter. 2. Bees become dependent on this food source and started carrying pollen from plant to plant unknowingly, in search of more nectar. 3. This pollen spread helps flowers avoid genetic defects by keeping a constant genetic drift. Inbreeding, though still common because of how close the male and female parts are to each other, is lessened by insect pollination. What the flower must do:  What the flower must do Give some kind of reward for the pollinator. This is almost always pollen, which is used by bees to build their houses and to eat. Display some kind of attractant to advertise the presence of the reward. This could be a direct attractant such as odor, color, shape, or texture, or an indirect attractant, such as providing prey for predators. Have a means of putting pollen onto the pollinator such that it is efficiently transferred to the next flower visited by that pollinator. Flowers’ Techniques:  Flowers’ Techniques Flowers’ pollination techniques Flowers which have evolved to attract honeybees have optimized their flowers to increase the chance of a bee visit. The bees unwittingly carry pollen from flower to flower, thus pollinating the plants and permitting them to reproduce. Plants most successful in attracting bees and getting them to make repeat visits will out-reproduce those which are less successful. Thus flowers must both attract and reward an insect visitor. Specialized versus Non-Specialized:  Specialized versus Non-Specialized A flower that attracts specific pollinators on a regular basis has an advantage (less wasted pollen) over flowers that attract generalist or “promiscuous” pollinators. However, flowers that generate more pollen (to attract diverse pollinators) but do not have to spend as much energy on creating attractions such as odor, color, or shape have an advantage over specialist flowers. The flowers that prosper are the ones that manage to spend a moderate amount of energy creating attractions and successfully attract several specific pollinators. It is also an advantage for the flower to make the pollinator have its own food source because there is less competition. Bee Sight:  Bee Sight Bees don’t see red, but do see yellow, blue, and UV. Thus, bee-pollinated flowers are mostly yellow or blue with UV nectar guides (landing patterns) to guide the bee. They usually have a delicate, sweet scent, and a small, narrow floral tube to fit the tongue-length of that species of bee. The flowers are sturdy and irregularly-shaped with a specifically-designed landing platform. For example, snapdragons will only open for a bee of the right weight. Bee Mouth Characteristics:  Bee Mouth Characteristics The honey bee1 mouthparts designed to perform a sort of “lapping mode” of feeding in which liquid food adhering to the bee’s labial glossae (tongue-like structure) is transferred from flower to mouth. The image to the right shows the top of the mouthparts. The two triangular structures in the center of the image are the bee’s mandibles. Below the mandibles, the labial glossae extends, which forms the structure that looks like a hairy tongue. 1 Pictures are of a honey bee, but the characteristics for a bumble bee are close to identical Bee Mouth Characteristics (cont.):  Bee Mouth Characteristics (cont.) When feeding the honey bee dips its tongue into the flower’s nectar which adheres to the tongue. The tongue is then retracted so that adhering liquid is carried into the space between the galeae (smooth areas at top) and labial palps (protruding to the left). Bee Mouth Characteristics (cont.):  Bee Mouth Characteristics (cont.) This image shows a honey bee’s head. The bee is unknowingly carrying pollen (caught in the hairs) to the next flower for pollination. Slide13:  All images courtesy of www.google.com image search.

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