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Why be a rewarding trap? The evolution of floral rewards in Arum (Araceae), a genus characterized by saprophilous pollination systems

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Plant species of the genus Arum typically have lure-and-trap pollination systems that are saprophilous (i.e. attracting flies or beetles searching for breeding sites in decaying organic matter). They have been assumed to always attract and trap their pollinators by deception because the inflorescences provide unsuitable breeding grounds for pollinators. The present study explored the possibility that one species, Arum creticum Boiss. & Heldr., which has yellow, sweet-smelling inflorescences, rewards its pollinators and that this increases its success in attracting pollinators over its close relative, Arum idaeum Coust. & Gadoger. The relationship between rewards provided, floral structure, insect attraction, and pollen import and export was examined in two naturally occurring sympatric populations of A. creticum, A. idaeum, and their natural hybrids. The results showed that plants providing more pollen were visited by larger numbers of females of a mining bee Lasioglossum marginatum Brull√© as well as adults and nymphs of a hemipteran bug Dionconotus cruentatus creticus Heiss. In A. creticum, L. marginatum was found to be a better outcrossing vector than D. cruentatus in areas where both pollinators occurred because L. marginatum individuals carried more pollen on their bodies and travelled greater distances between inflorescences, thus increasing the potential for outcrossing. The finding that floral rewards may result in increased fitness, compared to nonrewarding systems that rely on attracting saprophilic pollinators, suggests that it is possible for rewarding species to evolve from saprophilous systems. ¬© 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 88, 257–268.
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Keywords: Dionconotus; Lasioglossum; breeding system; inflorescence odour

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, UK

Publication date: 01 June 2006

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