Advertising to the enemy: Enhanced floral fragrance increases beetle attraction and reduces plant reproduction

  • Theis N
  • Adler L
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Many organisms face challenges in avoiding predation while searching for mates. For plants, emitting floral fragrances to advertise reproductive structures could increase the attraction of detrimental insects along with pollinators. Very few studies have experimentally evaluated the costs and benefits of fragrance emission with explicit consideration of how plant fitness is affected by both pollinators and florivores. To determine the reproductive consequences of increasing the apparency of reproductive parts, we manipulated fragrance, pollination, and florivores in the wild Texas gourd, Cucurbita pepo var. texana. With enhanced fragrance we found an increase in the attraction of florivores, rather than pollinators, and a decrease in seed production. This study is the first to demonstrate that enhanced floral fragrance can increase the attraction of detrimental florivores and decrease plant reproduction, suggesting that florivory as well as pollination has shaped the evolution of floral scent.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cucurbits
  • Diabrocticite beetles
  • Floral volatiles
  • Florivore
  • Pollination
  • Squash

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  • Nina Theis

  • Lynn S. Adler

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