Plant Ecology

, Volume 193, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Nectar robbing of a carpenter bee and its effects on the reproductive fitness of Glechoma longituba (Lamiaceae)

  • Yan -Wen Zhang
  • Gituru W. Robert
  • Yong Wang
  • You -Hao GuoEmail author
Original Paper


The floral biology and pollination process of Glechoma longituba (Nakai) Kuprian, a clonal gynodioecious, perennial herb that is widely distributed in China was investigated in natural populations. During visits to the flowers of G. longituba, the carpenter bee—Xylocopa sinensis mainly displayed nectar-robbing behavior with minimal pollination. Nectar robbing behavior began at the onset of flowering and continued for about 3 weeks ending at about the middle of the flowering period. A total of 18.6% floral visits in this period were by nectar robbers, with about 90% of the flowers in the study populations being subjected to two or two nectar-robbing episodes. During controlled experiments, lower pollination efficiency was recorded for X. sinensis compared to legitimate pollinators. Pollination by the robber-like pollinator X. sinensis during the early-mid phase of the flowering season yielded seeds of 16.16%. Although nectar robbing by the carpenter bee seemed to have a slight enhancing effect on seed set in G. longituba, this effect was effectively masked by the more pronounced detrimental effect of nectar robbing. Experiments indicated that nectar robbing by the carpenter bee reduced seed production by more than 26%, largely owing to the consequent shortening of the life span of robbed flowers. Furthermore, 10.43% of the ovules and 13.04% of the nectaries in the robbed flowers were damaged, thus causing a decrease or entire loss of reproductive opportunity in the robbed flowers. In addition, a higher number of pollen grains remained on the androecia of robbed flowers indicating that nectar robbing may have a lowering effect on male fitness in G. longituba.


Glechoma longituba Nectar robbing. Pollination ecology 



We would like to thank professor Huang SQ, Zhao LM, and Wang DL for useful discussion; Yu Q, Zhang XL, Liao K, Xu MB, Chen L, Wang XY, Shi XC for their assistances in the field. This work was supported by a grant from Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yan -Wen Zhang
    • 1
  • Gituru W. Robert
    • 1
  • Yong Wang
    • 1
  • You -Hao Guo
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Life SciencesWuhan UniversityWuhanPR China

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