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Data from: Bees use the taste of pollen to determine which flowers to visit

Citation

Muth, Felicity; Jacob, Francis S.; Leonard, Anne S.; Francis, Jacob S. (2016), Data from: Bees use the taste of pollen to determine which flowers to visit, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.tt5q1

Abstract

Pollen plays a dual role as both a gametophyte and a nutritional reward for pollinators. Although pollen chemistry varies across plant species, its functional significance in pollination has remained obscure, in part because little is known about how floral visitors assess it. Bees rely on pollen for protein, but whether foragers evaluate its chemistry is unclear, as it is primarily consumed by larvae. We asked whether the chemical composition of pollen influences bumblebees' foraging behaviour. Using putatively sweet and bitter pollen blends, we found that chemical composition influenced two aspects of bee behaviour relevant to plant fitness: the amount of pollen collected and the likelihood of subsequently visiting a visually similar flower. These findings offer a new perspective on the nutritional ecology of plant–pollinator interactions, as they show that pollen's taste may mediate its collection and transfer.

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