Small but attractive: female biased nectar production and floral visitors in a dimorphic shrub.


In sexually dimorphic species, hermaphrodite flowers in gynodioecious species, or male flowers in dioecious species, often are larger and produce more nectar than their conspecific female flowers. As a consequence, hermaphrodite or male flowers frequently receive more pollinator visits. Sex ratio, flower size, floral display, nectar production and floral visits were evaluated in two natural populations of Fuchsia thymifolia, a morphologically gynodioecious but functionally subdioecious insect-pollinated shrub. Sex ratio did not differ from the expected 1:1 in the two studied populations. As expected, hermaphrodite flowers were larger than female flowers but in contrast to the general pattern, hermaphrodite flowers did not produce nectar or produced much less than female flowers. Flower visitors were flies (68%) and bumble bees (24%), both of which showed a preference for female flowers. No sex difference was detected in either flower longevity or floral display across the flowering season. Higher nectar production by females may attract more pollinators, and may be a strategy to enhance female reproductive success in this species. Finally, floral dimorphism and insect preferences did not seem to hamper the maintenance of sub-dioecy or to prevent the evolution of dioecy in F. thymifolia. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1111/plb.12653

Cite this paper

@article{Cervantes2017SmallBA, title={Small but attractive: female biased nectar production and floral visitors in a dimorphic shrub.}, author={Cinthya Cervantes and Anai Alvarez and Eduardo Cuevas}, journal={Plant biology}, year={2017} }