Original Paper

Arthropod-Plant Interactions

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 117-123

Variability in nectar production and standing crop, and their relation to pollinator visits in a Mediterranean shrub

  • Tamar KeasarAffiliated withDepartment of Life Sciences, Achva CollegeDepartment of Biology, University of Haifa – Oranim Email author 
  • , Adi SadehAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, Agricultural Research Organization
  • , Avi ShmidaAffiliated withDepartment of Evolution, Systematics & Ecology, The Hebrew UniversityCenter for Rationality, The Hebrew University

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Nectar standing crops in flowers within an individual plant are often highly variable. This variability may be a by-product of the foraging activity of insect pollinators. Alternatively, plants may be selected to produce highly variable rewards to reduce consecutive visitation by risk-averse pollinators, thus diminishing within-plant pollen transfer. This study evaluated the roles of pollinator control vs. plant control over nectar variability in the bee-pollinated shrub Rosmarinus officinalis L. (Lamiaceae). We sampled nectar production, standing crop and pollinator visits in three shrubs of one population over 17 days during one blooming season. Nectar production rates were highly variable (CV = 1.48), and increased after rainy days. Nectar standing crops were even more variable (CV = 2.16), decreased with increasing temperatures, and increased with time since the last rain. Pollinator visit rates decreased with variability in nectar standing crops, increased with flower number per shrub, and were unaffected by variability in nectar production rates. Repeated sampling of marked flowers revealed no correlation between their nectar standing crops and production rates. These findings support the role of reward variance in reducing pollinator visits, but suggest that plants are not in complete control of this variability. Rather, plant-generated variability can be modified by intensive foraging activity of pollinators. Such pollinator control over nectar variability is likely to reduce the selective advantage of plant-generated reward variation.


Geitonogamy Honeybee Rosmarinus officinalis Nectar variability Pollination