Natures wonders: a preferred pollinator (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, March 03, 2015, 20:17 (1660 days ago) @ David Turell

Only hummingbirds with longer curved beaks are allowed to drink from this plant:


"Because they have no eyes, or brains to process visual information, it would seem that plants do not have much choice in which sorts of birds or insects transfer pollen to or from them, but in the case of one flowering plant, it appears a way has evolved nonetheless to ignore the pollen deposited by one species of bird, while favoring that from another.

"As part of their study of the plant, the researchers found that it was not very receptive to being artificially pollinated, this got them wondering if the plants were as choosy with natural pollinators, so they captured several of them and released them into an aviary where they could be studied more closely. In tracking which flowers were visited by different types of humming birds and one type of butterfly, the researchers found a pattern—the plants seemed more receptive to the hummingbird species that had long curved beaks. Further testing confirmed their suspicions. But how could the plants demonstrate a preference? Suspecting it had to do with the longer bills, the researchers tried pollinating the plants with a longer pipette and found it a more successful technique. Taking their study further, they found that a longer pipette or bill on a bird allowed for sucking up more of the nectar the plant was offering, and that turned out to be the means by which the plant did its choosing—those that took more nectar were in turn more likely to see their pollen accepted by the plant.


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-03-species-evolved-pollinator.html#jCp


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