Skip to main content
Log in

Nectar robbing in Ipomopsis aggregata : effects on pollinator behavior and plant fitness

  • Article
  • Published:
Oecologia Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Hummingbirds foraging in alpine meadows of central Colorado, United States, face a heterogeneous distribution of nectar rewards. This study investigated how variability in nectar resources caused by nectar-robbing bumblebees affected the foraging behavior of hummingbird pollinators and, subsequently, the reproductive success of a host plant (Ipomopsis aggregata). We presented hummingbirds with experimental arrays of I. aggregata and measured hummingbird foraging behavior as a function of known levels of nectar robbing. Hummingbirds visited significantly fewer plants with heavy nectar robbing (over 80% of available flowers robbed) and visited fewer flowers on those plants. These changes in hummingbird foraging behavior resulted in decreased percent fruit set as well as decreased total seed set in heavily robbed plants. These results indicate that hummingbird avoidance of nectar-robbed plants and flowers reduces plant fitness components. In addition, our results suggest that the mutualisms between pollinators and host plants may be affected by other species, such as nectar robbers.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

Received: 22 April 1998 / Accepted: 12 May 1998

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Irwin, R., Brody, A. Nectar robbing in Ipomopsis aggregata : effects on pollinator behavior and plant fitness. Oecologia 116, 519–527 (1998).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: