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Data from: Novel nectar robbing negatively affects reproduction in Digitalis purpurea

Cite this dataset

Mackin, Christopher; Castellanos, Maria Clara; Goulson, Dave (2022). Data from: Novel nectar robbing negatively affects reproduction in Digitalis purpurea [Dataset]. Dryad.


With many plant-pollinator interactions undergoing change as species’ distributions shift, we require a better understanding of how the addition of new interacting partners can affect plant reproduction. One such group of floral visitors, nectar robbers, can deplete plants of nectar rewards without contributing to pollination. The addition of nectar robbing to the floral visitor assemblage could therefore have costs to the plant´s reproductive output. We focus on a recent plant colonist, Digitalis purpurea, a plant that in its native range is rarely robbed, but experiences intense nectar robbing in areas it has been introduced to. Here, we test the costs to reproduction following experimental nectar robbing. To identify any changes in the behaviour of the principal pollinators in response to nectar robbing, we measured visitation rates, visit duration, proportion of flowers visited and rate of rejection of inflorescences. To find the effects of robbing on fitness, we used proxies for female and male components of reproductive output, by measuring the seeds produced per fruit and the pollen export respectively. Nectar robbing significantly reduced the rate of visitation and lengths of visits by bumblebees. Additionally, bumblebees visited a lower proportion of flowers on an inflorescence that had robbed flowers. We found that flowers in the robbed treatment produced significantly fewer seeds per fruit on average but did not export fewer pollen grains. Our finding that robbing leads to reduced seed production could be due to fewer and shorter visits to flowers leading to less effective pollination. We discuss the potential consequences of new pollinator environments, such as exposure to nectar robbing, for plant reproduction.

Usage notes

The Excel file includes the following tabs as follows; see legends for variable names in each tab within the file:

Visits and Rejections: Visits by pollinators and number of times inflorescences were rejected.

Visit Duration: Length of time bumblebees spend, measured at the time between entering and exiting a flower.

Proportions: Proportion of flowers in an inflorescence visited by bumblebees.

Seed Production: Estimates of seed production for fruits.

Pollen Export: Pollen exported from flowers in experimental plant.

Pollen Within Flowers: Pollen grain production by anthers.