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Generalist flowers, biodiversity and florivory: implications for angiosperm origins

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Abstract:

A brief overview of arthropod/insect evolution with particular emphasis on herbivory provides the starting point for discussion of increased herbivory over time. The term "flower" is defined, and it is noted that angiosperm flowers are distinguished by their edibility. It is observed that the phenomenon of florivory is a primary plant-animal interaction, and pollination, as one possible outcome of the eating of flowers, is a secondary phenomenon. An hypothesis reconciling the facts that angiosperms are the most eaten of all plant groups and the most successful in term of number of species is proposed. From the perspective of a floral morphologist, I discuss what a generalist flower is and how archaic angiosperms are characterized by this flower type. Biodiversity arguments underpin a discourse on why researchers should investigate generalist flowers and florivory.

Keywords: ANGIOSPERMS; ARTHROPOD; EDIBILITY; EVOLUTION; GENERALIST FLOWER; HERBIVORY; INSECT; RADIATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2003

iapt/tax/2003/00000052/00000004/art00004
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