Interpopulation variation in nectar production in Aconitum columbianum (Ranunculaceae)
In Aconitum columbianum there are extreme interpopulation differences in rates of nectar secretion per flower. Since nectar sugar concentration varies little among populations, increased nectar secretion results in a greater mass of sugar per flower for pollinator attraction. These differences in the amount of reward offered per flower account at least in part for observed higher levels of pollinator activity in populations with high nectar production. Nectar production is correlated also with nectary depth, i.e., flowers in populations with deep nectaries have higher rates of nectar secretion than those with shallow nectaries. Nectary depth differences adapt populations to different pollinator-types. Populations with deeper nectaries are adapted to pollination by bumblebees with longer tongues and more specialized foraging behaviors. In conclusion, there are basic differences in pollination ecology among geographical races of a. columbianum, which are indicated by correlated interpopulution differences in (1) nectar production, (2) level of pollinator activity, (3) nectar depth, and (4) pollinator-type.
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