Potential disruption of pollination in a sexually deceptive orchid by climatic change

Robbirt, Karen M. and Roberts, David L. and Hutchings, Michael J. and Davy, Anthony J. (2014) Potential disruption of pollination in a sexually deceptive orchid by climatic change. Current Biology, 24 (23). pp. 2845-2849. ISSN 0960-9822. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.10.033) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.10.033

Abstract

Warmer springs advance many phenological events, including flowering time in plants and the flight time of insects [ 1 ]. Pollination by insects, an ecosystem service of immense economic and conservation importance [ 2 ], depends on synchrony between insect activity and flowering time. If plants and their pollinators show different phenological responses to climate warming, pollination could fail. Information about the effects of warming on specific plant-insect mutualisms is difficult to obtain from complex pollination networks [ 3 ]. In contrast, the extraordinarily specific deceptions evolved by orchids [ 4 ] that attract a very narrow range of pollinators allow direct examination of the potential for climatic warming to disrupt synchrony. Here we show that a sexually deceptive orchid and the solitary bee on which it depends for pollination will diverge in phenology with increasing spring temperature. Male bees inadvertently pollinate the orchid flowers during pseudocopulation. Analysis of museum specimens (1893–2007) and recent field-based records (1975–2009) showed that flight date of the solitary bee Andrena nigroaenea is advanced more by higher temperatures than is flowering date in the deceptive orchid Ophrys sphegodes. Male bees emerged slightly earlier than females, which attract male copulatory attentions away from the deceptive flowers. Warming by as little as 2°C increased both the probability of male flight and the proportion of females flying in the bee population before orchid flowering; this would reduce the frequency of pseudocopulation and thus lower pollination success rate in the orchid. Our results demonstrate a significant potential for coevolved plant-pollinator relationships to be disrupted by climatic warming.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Q Science > QK Botany
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biodiversity Conservation Group
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biodiversity Management Group
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: David Roberts
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2014 14:06 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2017 10:35 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/44155 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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