Data from: Ants and ant scent reduce bumblebee pollination of artificial flowers
Cembrowski, Adam R.; Frederickson, Megan E.; Thomson, James D.; Tan, Marcus G. (2013), Data from: Ants and ant scent reduce bumblebee pollination of artificial flowers, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3v7k3
Ants on flowers can disrupt pollination by consuming rewards or harassing pollinators, but it is difficult to disentangle the effects of these exploitative and interference forms of competition on pollinator behavior. Using highly rewarding and quickly replenishing artificial flowers that simulate male or female function, we allowed bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) to forage (1) on flowers with or without ants (Myrmica rubra) and (2) on flowers with or without ant scent cues. Bumblebees transferred significantly more pollen analogue both to and from ant-free flowers, demonstrating that interference competition with ants is sufficient to modify pollinator foraging behavior. Bees also removed significantly less pollen analogue from ant-scented flowers than from controls, making this the first study to show that bees can use ant scent to avoid harassment at flowers. Ant effects on pollinator behavior, possibly in addition to their effects on pollen viability, may contribute to the evolution of floral traits minimizing ant visitation.