Relationships among floral VOC emissions, floral rewards and visits of pollinators in five plant species of a Mediterranean shrubland

Gerard Farré-Armengol, Iolanda Filella, Joan Llusia, Josep Peñuelas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2015 Botanic Garden Meise and Royal Botanical Society of Belgium. Background and aims–In plant-pollinator communities seasonal changes in the abundance of pollinators lead to seasonal changes in competition among flowering plants for their services. Here we address the following question: Do flowers of a given species produce more olfactory signals (emissions of volatile compounds) and rewards (nectar and pollen) during the phase(s) of the flowering period within which they have to maximally compete with the signals and rewards of other co-flowering species in the community, compared to the amount of signals and rewards produced during the period(s) with less floral competition? Methods–We analysed the floral emission rates of biogenic volatile organic compounds by gas chromatography and proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry, the visitation rates of pollinators, and the availability of nectar and pollen during the flowering periods of five species to test whether floral rewards and signals would decrease with an increase in pollinator visitation rates during late spring and early summer, i.e. coinciding with decreasing competitive pressure for the services of pollinators. Key results–The results indicate that phenological patterns in the production of rewards are only present at the species level in those species with long flowering periods or with matching periods of changes in pollinator populations. The capacity of emitting isoprenoids and oxidised volatile organic compounds, however, did not present significant patterns during the flowering period in any of the five species studied. Conclusions–The results support the hypothesis of a decreasing competitive pressure for the attraction of pollinators that may drive a decrease in floral investment in rewards but not an accompanying decrease of the capacity of emitting volatile olfactory signals in a species with long flowering period. However, the negative correlation between nectar production and visitation rates may be reinforced by the opposite responses of these variables to climatic conditions. This fact makes difficult to discern possible evolutionary forces tending to decrease rewards from plastic responses to changing environmental conditions in that part of the flowering period in which pollinator visitation rates are higher.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)90-99
    JournalPlant Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • Biological market
    • Biscutella laevigata
    • Euphorbia flavicoma
    • Floral phenology
    • Floral scent
    • Muscari neglectum
    • Phlomis lychnitis
    • Plant-pollinator interaction
    • Rosmarinus officinalis


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