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Effects of nectar robbing on nectar dynamics and bumblebee foraging strategies in Linaria vulgaris (Scrophulariaceae)



Effects of nectar robbing on nectar dynamics and bumblebee foraging strategies in Linaria vulgaris (Scrophulariaceae)



Oikos 110(2): 309-320



Differences in morphology among bumblebee species sharing a nectar resource may lead to variation in foraging behaviour and efficiency. Less efficient bumblebees might opportunistically switch foraging strategies from legitimate visitation to secondary robbing when hole-biting primary robbers are present. We observed various aspects of pollination and nectar robbing ecology of Linaria vulgaris in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, with emphasis on the role of bumblebee proboscis length. Bees can extract nectar from a nectar spur legitimately, by entering the front of the flower, or illegitimately, by biting or reusing holes in the spur. Although L. vulgaris flowers are apparently adapted for pollination by long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees visited them legitimately for trace amounts of nectar but switched to secondary robbing in the presence of primary robbers. Longer-tongued bees removed more nectar in less time than did shorter-tongued bees, and were less likely to switch to secondary robbing even when [approximately]100% of flowers had been pierced. As the proportion of robbed flowers in the population increased, the relative number of legitimate visits decreased while the relative number of robbing visits increased. Robbing decreased nectar standing crop and increased the proportion of empty flowers per inflorescence. Despite these potentially detrimental effects of robbers, differences in inflorescence use among robbers and pollinators, and the placement of holes made by primary robbers, may mitigate negative effects of nectar robbing in L. vulgaris. We discuss some of the reasons that L. vulgaris pollination ecology and growth form might temper the potentially negative effect of nectar robbing.

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Accession: 004135956

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DOI: 10.1111/j.0030-1299.2005.13884.x


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