, Volume 92, Issue 9, pp 444–450

Convergent evolution: floral guides, stingless bee nest entrances, and insectivorous pitchers


    • Centre for Biodiversity and ConservationUniversity of Leeds
    • Neurobiology and BehaviorCornell University
  • Martin Giurfa
    • Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition AnimaleCNRS–Université Paul Sabatier–Toulouse III
  • Dirk Koedam
    • Laboratorio de AbelhasUniversidade de São Paulo
  • Simon G. Potts
    • Centre for Agri-Environmental ResearchReading University
  • Daniel M. Joel
    • Division of Weed Research, Agricultural Research OrganizationNewe-Ya’ar Research Centre
  • Amots Dafni
    • Institute of EvolutionHaifa University
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00114-005-0017-6

Cite this article as:
Biesmeijer, J.C., Giurfa, M., Koedam, D. et al. Naturwissenschaften (2005) 92: 444. doi:10.1007/s00114-005-0017-6


Several recent hypotheses, including sensory drive and sensory exploitation, suggest that receiver biases may drive selection of biological signals in the context of sexual selection. Here we suggest that a similar mechanism may have led to convergence of patterns in flowers, stingless bee nest entrances, and pitchers of insectivorous plants. A survey of these non-related visual stimuli shows that they share features such as stripes, dark centre, and peripheral dots. Next, we experimentally show that in stingless bees the close-up approach to a flower is guided by dark centre preference. Moreover, in the approach towards their nest entrance, they have a spontaneous preference for entrance patterns containing a dark centre and disrupted ornamentation. Together with existing empirical evidence on the honeybee's and other insects’ orientation to flowers, this suggests that the signal receivers of the natural patterns we examined, mainly Hymenoptera, have spontaneous preferences for radiating stripes, dark centres, and peripheral dots. These receiver biases may have evolved in other behavioural contexts in the ancestors of Hymenoptera, but our findings suggest that they have triggered the convergent evolution of visual stimuli in floral guides, stingless bee nest entrances, and insectivorous pitchers.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005