Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 249–267 | Cite as

Plant attractants: integrating insights from pollination and seed dispersal ecology

  • Kim ValentaEmail author
  • Omer Nevo
  • Carlos Martel
  • Colin A. Chapman


Reproduction in many angiosperms depends on attracting animals that provide pollination and seed dispersal services. Flowers and fleshy fruits present various features that can attract animal mutualists through visual, olfactory, acoustic, and tactile cues and signals, and some of these traits may result from selection exerted by pollinators and seed dispersers. Plant attractants can provide information regarding the presence, location, and quality of the reward. However, because of the different functional outcomes of pollination and seed dispersal, pollination systems are thought to be more highly specialized than seed dispersal systems. Despite these interesting parallels and contrasts, theoretical and empirical insights in the sensory ecology of pollination and seed dispersal are rarely considered together. Here, we review extant theory and data of sensory attractants from both pollination and seed dispersal systems. We discuss theoretical and empirical similarities and differences between pollination and seed dispersal and offer suggestions for ways in which insights from each field may benefit the other in future.


Animal–plant interactions Communication Coevolution Foraging ecology Mutualism Sensory ecology 



We thank Shawn Lehman and Amanda Melin for valuable discussion on this project. Funding for the research was provided by the Canada Research Chairs Program (CC), Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (KV, CC), Minerva Fellowship (ON), German Science Foundation (ON), and National Geographic Society (CC).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kim Valenta
    • 1
    Email author
  • Omer Nevo
    • 2
  • Carlos Martel
    • 2
  • Colin A. Chapman
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Institute of Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation GenomicsUniversity of UlmUlmGermany
  3. 3.McGill School of EnvironmentMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA

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