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Convergent evolution of floral signals underlies the success of Neotropical orchids

Papadopulos, A. S.T., Powell, M. P., Pupulin, F., Warner, J., Hawkins, J. A., Salamin, N., Chittka, L., Williams, N. H., Whitten, W. M., Loader, D., Valente, L. M., Chase, M. W. and Savolainen, V. (2013) Convergent evolution of floral signals underlies the success of Neotropical orchids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 280 (1765). 20130960. ISSN 1471-2954

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0960

Abstract/Summary

The great majority of plant species in the tropics require animals to achieve pollination, but the exact role of floral signals in attraction of animal pollinators is often debated. Many plants provide a floral reward to attract a guild of pollinators, and it has been proposed that floral signals of non-rewarding species may converge on those of rewarding species to exploit the relationship of the latter with their pollinators. In the orchid family (Orchidaceae), pollination is almost universally animal-mediated, but a third of species provide no floral reward, which suggests that deceptive pollination mechanisms are prevalent. Here, we examine floral colour and shape convergence in Neotropical plant communities, focusing on certain food-deceptive Oncidiinae orchids (e.g. Trichocentrum ascendens and Oncidium nebulosum) and rewarding species of Malpighiaceae. We show that the species from these two distantly related families are often more similar in floral colour and shape than expected by chance and propose that a system of multifarious floral mimicry—a form of Batesian mimicry that involves multiple models and is more complex than a simple one model–one mimic system—operates in these orchids. The same mimetic pollination system has evolved at least 14 times within the species-rich Oncidiinae throughout the Neotropics. These results help explain the extraordinary diversification of Neotropical orchids and highlight the complexity of plant–animal interactions.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:33157
Uncontrolled Keywords:convergent evolution, Oncidiinae, deceptive pollination, Neotropical plant communities, insect colour vision
Publisher:The Royal Society

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