, Volume 156, Issue 2, pp 341-350
Date: 19 Feb 2008

Combined effects of inflorescence architecture, display size, plant density and empty flowers on bumble bee behaviour: experimental study with artificial inflorescences

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Pollen dispersal by pollinators is governed by the extent to which diverse effects on pollinator behaviour act independently or augment or moderate each other. Using artificial inflorescences, we assessed the behavioural responses of bumble bees to inflorescence architecture (raceme, panicle, and umbel), inflorescence size (7 or 13 flowers), inter-inflorescence distance and the proportion of empty flowers per inflorescence. The advantage of large inflorescences in terms of attractiveness was larger for racemes and umbels than for panicles, whereas the effect of inter-inflorescence distance on the number of successive probes was smaller for racemes than for panicles and umbels. The number of flowers probed per visit increased almost proportionally with display size when fewer flowers were empty, whereas the number increased less when many flowers were empty. Our results suggest that display size and the spatial arrangement of flowers and nectar within inflorescences can contribute to efficient pollination by affecting pollinator behaviour interactively.

Communicated by Jeff Corner.