Determinants of pollinator activity and flower preference in the early spring blooming Crocus vernus

  • Totland Ø
  • Matthews I
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This study examines the effects of environmental factors on the pollination activity on Crocus vernus by Apis mellifera, and also whether bees discriminate among flowers on the basis of floral display size and colour. Flower density was much more important than temperature, humidity, and time of day and season in explaining variation in bee numbers, the total number of flowers visited, the number of flowers visited by individual bees and the total number of visits per flower (visitation rate) during 10 min observation periods. Although flower density positively influenced bee abundance and the number of flowers visited by individual bees, we found a negative relationship between flower density and visitation rates, suggesting that the pool of available pollinators was saturated at flower densities below maximum. Despite this, visitation rates were high. On average a flower received 3.42 visits during one hour; thus there seems to be little intraspecific competition for pollinators despite saturation of the pollinator pool. There was no significant difference between the size or colour of flowers that were visited, approached, or ignored by bees, and duration of visits was not related to floral display size or colour. Thus, on average A. mellifera did not appear to discriminate between flowers on the basis of floral display. Consequently, the data indicate that there is no pollinator mediated selection on floral display, driven by discriminating pollinators.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Apis mellifera
  • Crocus vernus
  • Floral display
  • Flower density
  • Flower discrimination
  • Foraging
  • Norway
  • Pollination
  • Visitation rates
  • Weather

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  • Ørjan Totland

  • Ingrid Matthews

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