Floral display size in comfrey, Symphytum officinale L. (Boraginaceae): Relationships with visitation by three bumblebee species and subsequent seed set

Goulson, Dave, Stout, Jane C, Hawson, Sadie A and Allen, John A (1998) Floral display size in comfrey, Symphytum officinale L. (Boraginaceae): Relationships with visitation by three bumblebee species and subsequent seed set. Oecologia, 113 (4). pp. 502-508. ISSN 0029-8549

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Abstract

The fecundity of insect-pollinated plants may not be linearly related to the number of flowers produced, since floral display will influence pollinator foraging patterns. We may expect more visits to plants with more flowers, but do these large plants receive more or fewer visits per flower than small plants? Do all pollinator species respond in the same way? We would also expect foragers to move less between plants when the number of flowers per plant are large, which may reduce cross-pollination compared to plants with few flowers. We examine the relationships between numbers of inflorescence per plant, bumblebee foraging behaviour and seed set in comfrey, Symphytum officinale, a self-incompatible perennial herb. Bumblebee species differed in their response to the size of floral display. More individuals of Bombus pratorum and the nectar-robbing B. terrestris were attracted to plants with larger floral displays, but B. pascuorum exhibited no increase in recruitment according to display size. Once attracted, all bee species visited more inflorescences per plant on plants with more inflorescences. Overall the visitation rate per inflorescence and seed set per flower was independent of the number of inflorescences per plant. Variation in seed set was not explained by the numbers of bumblebees attracted or by the number of inflorescences they visited for any bee species. However, the mean seed set per flower (1.18) was far below the maximum possible (4 per flower). We suggest that in this system seed set is not limited by pollination but by other factors, possibly nutritional resources.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Catrina Hey
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2014 11:44
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2014 11:44
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/51309
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