Oecologia

, Volume 183, Issue 4, pp 1111–1120 | Cite as

Asymmetric competition for nectar between a large nectar thief and a small pollinator: an energetic point of view

  • Eliška Padyšáková
  • Jan Okrouhlík
  • Mark Brown
  • Michael Bartoš
  • Štěpán Janeček
Plant-microbe-animal interactions - original research

Abstract

There are two alternative hypotheses related to body size and competition for restricted food sources. The first one supposes that larger animals are superior competitors because of their increased feeding abilities, whereas the second one assumes superiority of smaller animals because of their lower food requirements. We examined the relationship between two unrelated species of different size, drinking technique, energy requirements and roles in plant pollination system, to reveal the features of their competitive interaction and mechanisms enabling their co-existence while utilising the same nectar source. We observed diurnal feeding behaviour of the main pollinator, the carpenter bee Xylocopa caffra and a nectar thief, the northern double-collared sunbird Cinnyris reichenowi on 19 clumps of Hypoestes aristata (Acanthaceae) in Bamenda Highlands, Cameroon. For comparative purpose, we established a simplistic model of daily energy expenditure and daily energy intake by both visitor species assuming that they spend all available daytime feeding on H. aristata. We revealed the energetic gain–expenditure balance of the studied visitor species in relation to diurnal changes in nectar quality and quantity. In general, smaller energy requirements and related ability to utilise smaller resources made the main pollinator X. caffra competitively superior to the larger nectar thief C. reichenowi. Nevertheless, sunbirds are endowed with several mechanisms to reduce asymmetry in exploitative competition, such as the use of nectar resources in times of the day when rivals are inactive, aggressive attacks on carpenter bees while defending the nectar plants, and higher speed of nectar consumption.

Keywords

Africa Carpenter bee Cinnyris Hypoestes Sunbird Xylocopa 

Supplementary material

442_2017_3817_MOESM1_ESM.docx (542 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 542 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology Centre, Institute of EntomologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Faculty of ScienceCharles University in PraguePrague 2Czech Republic
  4. 4.School of Life SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  5. 5.Institute of BotanyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicTřeboňCzech Republic

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