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Nectar robbing, forager efficiency and seed set: Bumblebees foraging on the self incompatible plant Linaria vulgaris (Scrophulariaceae)
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 19:01 authored by Jane C Stout, John A Allen, Dave GoulsonDave Goulson
In southern England, Linaria vulgaris (common yellow toadflax) suffers from high rates of nectar robbery by bumblebees. In a wild population of L. vulgaris we found that 96 % of open flowers were robbed. Five species of bumblebee were observed foraging on these flowers, although short-tongued species (Bombus lapidarius, B. lucorum and B. terrestris) robbed nectar whilst longer-tongued ones behaved as legitimate pollinators (B. hortorum and B. pascuorum). Nectar rewards were highly variable; on average there was less nectar in robbed than in unrobbed flowers, but this difference was not statistically significant. The proportion Of flowers containing no nectar was significantly higher for robbed flowers compared with unrobbed flowers. Secondary robbers and legitimate pollinators had similar handling times on flowers and, assuming they select flowers at random to forage on, received approximately the same nectar profit per minute, largely because most flowers had been robbed. There was no significant difference in the number of seeds in pods of robbed flowers and in pods of flowers that were artificially protected against robbing. However, more of the robbed flowers set at least some seed than the unrobbed flowers, possibly as a consequence of the experimental manipulation. We suggest that nectar robbing has little effect on plant fecundity because legitimate foragers are present in the population, and that seed predation and seed abortion after fertilization may be more important factors in limiting seed production in this species. © 2000 Éditions scientifiques et médicales Elsevier SAS.
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