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      Bees use honest floral signals as indicators of reward when visiting flowers.

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          Abstract

          Pollinators visit flowers for rewards and should therefore have a preference for floral signals that indicate reward status, so called 'honest signals'. We investigated honest signalling in Brassica rapa L. and its relevance for the attraction of a generalised pollinator, the bumble bee Bombus terrestris (L.). We found a positive association between reward amount (nectar sugar and pollen) and the floral scent compound phenylacetaldehyde. Bumble bees developed a preference for phenylacetaldehyde over other scent compounds after foraging on B. rapa. When foraging on artificial flowers scented with synthetic volatiles, bumble bees developed a preference for those specific compounds that honestly indicated reward status. These results show that the honesty of floral signals can play a key role in their attractiveness to pollinators. In plants, a genetic constraint, resource limitation in reward and signal production, and sanctions against cheaters may contribute to the evolution and maintenance of honest signalling.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Ecol. Lett.
          Ecology letters
          1461-0248
          1461-023X
          Feb 2015
          : 18
          : 2
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Institute of Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, Zollikerstrasse 107, 8008, Zurich, Switzerland.
          Article
          10.1111/ele.12386
          25491788
          5708d49c-4fb0-43fd-9ace-cab5cc89528d
          © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.
          History

          Floral evolution,learning,phenylacetaldehyde,pollination,volatile,volatile organic compounds (VOC)

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