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      Colour as a backup for scent in the presence of olfactory noise: testing the efficacy backup hypothesis using bumblebees ( Bombus terrestris)

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          The majority of floral displays simultaneously broadcast signals from multiple sensory modalities, but these multimodal displays come at both a metabolic cost and an increased conspicuousness to floral antagonists. Why then do plants invest in these costly multimodal displays? The efficacy backup hypothesis suggests that individual signal components act as a backup for others in the presence of environmental variability. Here, we test the efficacy backup hypothesis by investigating the ability of bumblebees to differentiate between sets of artificial flowers in the presence of either chemical interference or high wind speeds, both of which have the potential to impede the transmission of olfactory signals. We found that both chemical interference and high wind speeds negatively affected forager learning times, but these effects were mitigated in the presence of a visual signal component. Our results suggest that visual signals can act as a backup for olfactory signals in the presence of chemical interference and high wind speeds, and support the efficacy backup hypothesis as an explanation for the evolution of multimodal floral displays.

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          Studies of climate change typically consider measurements or predictions of temperature over extended periods of time. Climate, however, is much more than temperature. Over the oceans, changes in wind speed and the surface gravity waves generated by such winds play an important role. We used a 23-year database of calibrated and validated satellite altimeter measurements to investigate global changes in oceanic wind speed and wave height over this period. We find a general global trend of increasing values of wind speed and, to a lesser degree, wave height, over this period. The rate of increase is greater for extreme events as compared to the mean condition.
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              Biosynthesis, function and metabolic engineering of plant volatile organic compounds.

              Plants synthesize an amazing diversity of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that facilitate interactions with their environment, from attracting pollinators and seed dispersers to protecting themselves from pathogens, parasites and herbivores. Recent progress in -omics technologies resulted in the isolation of genes encoding enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of many volatiles and contributed to our understanding of regulatory mechanisms involved in VOC formation. In this review, we largely focus on the biosynthesis and regulation of plant volatiles, the involvement of floral volatiles in plant reproduction as well as their contribution to plant biodiversity and applications in agriculture via crop-pollinator interactions. In addition, metabolic engineering approaches for both the improvement of plant defense and pollinator attraction are discussed in light of methodological constraints and ecological complications that limit the transition of crops with modified volatile profiles from research laboratories to real-world implementation. © 2013 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2013 New Phytologist Trust.

                Author and article information

                R Soc Open Sci
                R Soc Open Sci
                Royal Society Open Science
                The Royal Society Publishing
                November 2017
                29 November 2017
                29 November 2017
                : 4
                : 11
                School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol , Bristol BS8 1TQ, UK
                Author notes
                Author for correspondence: David A. Lawson e-mail: david.lawson@

                Electronic supplementary material is available online at

                © 2017 The Authors.

                Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Funded by: H2020 European Research Council,;
                Award ID: 260920
                Funded by: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council,;
                Award ID: BB/M002780/1
                Biology (Whole Organism)
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                November, 2017


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