Diel nectar secretion rhythm in squash (Cucurbita pepo) and its relation with pollinator activity

Abstract

Most studies of foraging behavior in bees have been performed under artificial conditions. One highly neglected area is the daily nectar secretion rhythm in flowers including how nectar properties may vary with time of day. As a first step in understanding the connections between forager behavior and nectar presentation under more natural conditions, we examined nectar secretion patterns in flowers of the squash Cucurbita pepo. Under greenhouse conditions, squash flowers exhibit consistent diel changes in nectar volume and concentration through anthesis. These temporal patterns are robust, persisting under field conditions as well as simulated drought conditions in the greenhouse. In the presence of active pollinators, diel patterns are evident but with highly variable, severely reduced volumes. The potential consequences of these factors for pollinator behavior are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Huijing Sun, Caleb Paquette, Curt Gill, Joanna Magner, and Aprele Fitzgerald for valuable assistance with the greenhouse and 2008 field experiments. We very much appreciate the generosity of the ETSU Kingsport Campus for providing garden space and support for the 2008 field studies and Thomas Jones and Allison Mains for garden space and support at their farm in 2009. Financial support was provided by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Research Initiative, CSREES #2006-35302-17278 (DM).

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Correspondence to Darrell Moore.

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Rythme journalier de la secrétion de nectar chez la courge ( Cucurbita pepo ) et relation avec l’activité des pollinisateurs

Abeilles / butinage / nectar / pollinisateur / comportement

Tagesrhythmik der Nektarsekretion im Kürbis ( Cucurbita pepo ) und seine Beziehung zur Bestäuberaktivität

Bienen / Sammelverhalten / Nektar / Bestäuber / Verhalten

Manuscript editor: Bernd Grünewald

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Edge, A.A., van Nest, B.N., Johnson, J.N. et al. Diel nectar secretion rhythm in squash (Cucurbita pepo) and its relation with pollinator activity. Apidologie 43, 1–16 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13592-011-0087-8

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Keywords

  • bees
  • foraging
  • nectar
  • pollinators
  • behavior