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This flower is our bed: long-term citizen science reveals that hummingbird flies use flowers with certain shapes as sleeping places

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One of the most peculiar biological interactions between pollinators and plants is the use of flowers as sleeping places, but this phenomenon is still poorly understood and it has been proposed to use citizen science in the form of volunteer records to fill the knowledge gaps. In this work, we report for the first time on the use of flowers as sleeping places by five species of Chilean flies of the genus Lasia (Acroceridae) in central Chile. In addition, we seek to determine whether the flower shape and/or color might be good predictors for flies using them as sleeping places. We used standardized records from a long-term citizen science project that exclusively monitors flies. We counted the number of flies that used flowers as a sleeping place and discretized the morphological variables of the flowers to relate both responses and predictors with a generalized linear model. We found that flowers belonging to the genus Alstroemeria, followed by Clarkia and Salpiglossis, were the most used as sleeping places. Our results suggest that zygomorphic flowers (with bilateral symmetry, and usually tubular flowers) are a better predictor than actinomorphic flowers and their color. The use of zygomorphic flowers could represent a better option for flies in adverse environmental conditions or to avoid predators, but the use of flowers as sleeping places could be an as-yet poorly understood way of pollinating plants. Citizen science, although it has some limitations (taxonomic, spatial or temporal biases), has great potential for describing new biological interactions in a changing world.

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The dataset generated during and/or analyzed during the current study is available in the Figshare repository

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We thank all the citizen scientists of the Moscas Florícolas de Chile group who have contributed with their records in the years that the project has worked. We thank Gabriela Carrasco, Luis Eduardo, Felipe Molina, Mario Antonio, Sebastián Cordero, Flor de la Montaña, Tomás Poch, Andrés Ramírez, Claudio Salas, Matías Tobar, and Pedro Vargas for providing photographic material.


RMBS grateful to Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (ANID) and Fondo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología Grant No. FONDECYT 3200817.

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RMBS: conceived the idea, compiled the information from citizen science group and wrote the first draft. VDS and RMBS: analyzed the dataset and performed the statistical analysis. MM and VDS: review the first draft and provide comments. RMBS, VDS and MM: write, discussed and correct the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rodrigo M. Barahona-Segovia.

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Barahona-Segovia, R.M., Durán-Sanzana, V. & Murúa, M. This flower is our bed: long-term citizen science reveals that hummingbird flies use flowers with certain shapes as sleeping places. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 17, 1–10 (2023).

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