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Nectar secretion patterns are associated to nectar accessibility in a guild of crepuscular-nocturnal flowering plants

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Floral morphology can determine the type of animal that can be an effective pollinator. In flowers with nocturnal anthesis long-tubed flowers may attract long-tongued insects such as hawkmoths. However, flowers with more open morphology have nectar that can be more easily accessed by bats and short-tongued moths. These contrasting conditions may have consequences on nectar characteristics, since bats can mediate the selection of copious nectar with low to medium sugar concentration values, contrary to what occurs in hawkmoth-pollinated flowers that show comparatively lower nectar volumes with medium sugar concentrations. Here we describe an overview of the nectar features, secretion patterns and removal effects in a guild of plants with crepuscular-nocturnal anthesis in the Atlantic Forest, Northeastern Brazil. Such a plant set encompassed both species with restricted and easy access to nectar, i.e., long-tube flowers and brush-type flowers, respectively. We found a marked difference between attributes of nectar between both groups. Long-tube flowers offer nectar of higher sugar concentration at specific periods of the night that can be reabsorbed later if it has not been removed, the brush-type flowers provide nectar of low sugar concentrations, throughout the night, and may increase their production in response to consumption. These differences can play an important role in mechanisms related to the sharing of resources in the community, ensuring an even more intimate relationship between long-tube flowers and hawkmoths, and allowing brush-type flowers to deal with consumption by different nocturnal pollinators.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author.


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We thank Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, through Paulo Martins, for logistic support and the possibility to develop this research at the Tapacurá Ecological Station and Edinaldo Mendes (Nado) for his help during fieldwork.


CAPES (Programa PEC/PG) for the scholarship to LMP and Financial Code 001; CNPq for financial support to ICM (310508/2019-3); FACEPE for financial support to ADM (APQ-0226-2.03/21); Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (SECyT-UNC) and CONICET for financial support to LG.

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The study was conceived and designed by LMP, ICM and LG. Field sampling was performed by LMP, and data analyses were performed by LMP and AD-M. The first draft was written by LMP and revised by ICM and LG. A final version was written by AD-M with the collaboration and revision of all authors.

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Correspondence to Isabel Cristina Machado.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest and have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

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Communicated by William E. Rogers.

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Primo, L.M., Domingos-Melo, A., Galetto, L. et al. Nectar secretion patterns are associated to nectar accessibility in a guild of crepuscular-nocturnal flowering plants. Plant Ecol 223, 951–964 (2022).

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