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Signal or cue: the role of structural colors in flower pollination

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Version 2 2024-06-13, 13:42
Version 1 2020-04-02, 11:40
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-13, 13:42 authored by Jair E Garcia, Mani Shrestha, Scarlett R Howard, Phred Petersen, Adrian G Dyer
Angle dependent colors, such as iridescence, are produced by structures present on flower petals changing their visual appearance. These colors have been proposed to act as signals for plant–insect communication. However, there is a paucity of behavioral data to allow for interpretations of how to classify these colors either as a signal or a cue when considering the natural conditions under which pollination occurs. We sampled flowers from 6 plant species across various viewpoints looking for changes in the visual appearance of the petals. Spectral characteristics were measured with different instruments to simulate both the spectral and spatial characteristics of honeybee’s vision. We show the presence of color patches produced by angle dependent effects on the petals and the calyx of various species; however, the appearance of the angle dependent color patches significantly varies with viewpoint and would only be resolved by the insect eye at close distances. Behavior experiments with honeybees revealed that pollinators did not use angle dependent colors to drive behavior when presented with novel flower presentations. Results show that angle dependent colors do not comply with the requirements of a signal for plant–pollinator communication since the information transmitted by these colors would be unreliable for potential, free-flying pollination vectors. We thus classify angle dependent colors produced by micro- and ultra-structures as being a cue (a feature which has not evolved for communication), and observe no evidence supporting claims of these angle dependent colors having evolved as visual signal.

History

Journal

Current Zoology

Volume

65

Pagination

467-481

Location

Oxford, Eng.

Open access

  • Yes

eISSN

2396-9814

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article, C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

4

Publisher

Oxford University Press (OUP)

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