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Data from: Looks matter: changes in flower form affect pollination effectiveness in a sexually-deceptive orchid


Rakosy, Demetra; Cuervo, Monica; Paulus, Hannes; Ayasse, Manfred (2017), Data from: Looks matter: changes in flower form affect pollination effectiveness in a sexually-deceptive orchid, Dryad, Dataset,


Many species of the sexually-deceptive genus Ophrys are characterized by insect-like flowers. Their form has been traditionally considered to play an important role in pollinator attraction and manipulation. Yet the evolution of the floral form remains insufficiently understood. We hypothesize that pollinator-mediated selection is essential for driving floral form evolution in Ophrys, but that form components are being subjected to varying selection pressures depending on their role in mediating interactions with pollinators. By using the Eucera pollinated Ophrys leochroma as a model, our aim has been to assess whether and in what manner pollination effectiveness is altered by experimental manipulation of the flower form. Our results show that the floral form plays an essential and, so far, underestimated role in ensuring effective pollination by mechanically guiding pollinators towards the reproductive structures of the flower. Pollinators are significantly less effective in interacting with flowers having forms altered to resemble those of species pollinated by different hymenopteran genera. Further, those components used by pollinators as gripping points were found to be more effective in ensuring pollinia transfer than those with which pollinators do not directly interact. Thus, mechanically-active and –inactive components appear to be under different selection pressures. As a consequence, mechanically-active components of the flower form could reflect adaptations to the interaction with particular pollinator groups, while inactive components can vary more freely. Disentangling selection patterns between the functionally different components of flower form may provide valuable insights into the mechanisms driving the morphological diversification of sexually-deceptive pollination-systems.

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