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Floral traits influencing plant attractiveness to three bee species: Consequences for plant reproductive success

Austin A. Bauer, Murray K. Clayton, Johanne Brunet
American journal of botany 2017 v.104 no.5 pp. 772-781
Bombus, Megachilidae, color, females, flowers, honey bees, models, pollinating insects, pollination, probability, regression analysis, reproductive success, seed set
PREMISE OF THE STUDY: The ability to attract pollinators is crucial to plants that rely on insects for pollination. We contrasted the roles of floral display size and flower color in attracting three bee species and determined the relationships between plant attractiveness (number of pollinator visits) and seed set for each bee species. METHODS: We recorded pollinator visits to plants, measured plant traits, and quantified plant reproductive success. A zero-inflated Poisson regression model indicated plant traits associated with pollinator attraction. It identified traits that increased the number of bee visits and traits that increased the probability of a plant not receiving any visits. Different components of floral display size were examined and two models of flower color contrasted. Relationships between plant attractiveness and seed set were determined using regression analyses. KEY RESULTS: Plants with more racemes received more bee visits from all three bee species. Plants with few racemes were more likely not to receive any bee visits. The role of flower color varied with bee species and was influenced by the choice of the flower color model. Increasing bee visits increased seed set for all three bee species, with the steepest slope for leafcutting bees, followed by bumble bees, and finally honey bees. CONCLUSIONS: Floral display size influenced pollinator attraction more consistently than flower color. The same plant traits affected the probability of not being visited and the number of pollinator visits received. The impact of plant attractiveness on female reproductive success varied, together with pollinator effectiveness, by pollinator species.