Deceptive Behavior in Plants. I. Pollination by Sexual Deception in Orchids: A Host–Parasite Perspective

  • Nicolas J. Vereecken
Part of the Signaling and Communication in Plants book series (SIGCOMM)


Sexually deceptive orchids attract male insects as pollinators by mimicking the reproductive signals emitted by the targeted females. Since this mimicry system involves the imitation of female mating signals of certain insects, and since mating signals, especially sex pheromones, generally act on a species-specific basis, theory holds that each sexually deceptive orchid is usually pollinated by only one or a few male insect species. While these orchids rely exclusively on their specialized pollinators for their own reproduction, the male insects derive no benefit from this interaction. In this chapter, I will argue that incorporating questions relevant to the field of animal-centered host–parasite interactions into investigations on the evolutionary ecology of orchid pollination by deception will provide important insights at both the proximate (or mechanistic) and at the ultimate (or evolutionary) levels.


Host Specificity Orchid Species Parasite Interaction Pollinator Attraction Pollinator Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am grateful to Florian P. Schiestl (University of Zürich, Switzerland) for his continuous support and encouragements during my research, as well as for his comments on this manuscript. I have received financial support from two Belgian institutions, namely the “Fonds pour la formation à la Recherche dans l'Industrie et l'Agriculture” (F.R.I.A.) and the “Royal Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts” (Agathon de Potter Foundation).


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioural and Evolutionary EcologyFree University of Brussels (U.L.B)BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Institute of Systematic BotanyUniversity of ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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