Community-wide integration of floral colour and scent in a Mediterranean scrubland

Aphrodite Kantsa, Robert A Raguso, Adrian G. Dyer, Stefanos P. Sgardelis, Jens Mogens Olesen, Theodora Petanidou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Angiosperm flowers have evolved a dazzling palette of colours and a rich bouquet of scents, principally serving to attract pollinators. Despite recent progress in the ecology of pollination, the sensory floral traits that are important for communication with pollinators (for example, colour and scent) have not been assessed in an unbiased, integrative sense within a community context. Nonetheless, floral sensory stimuli are known key factors that mediate flower visitation, thus affecting community dynamics. Here we show that flowers of the phrygana, a natural Mediterranean scrubland, display integrated patterns of scent composition and colour (as perceived by pollinators). Surprisingly, the data reveal predictive relationships between patterns of volatile composition and flower reflectance spectra. The presence of nectar is related to visual cues and the qualitative composition of floral aromas. Our results reveal a coordinated phenotypic integration consistent with the sensory abilities and perceptual biases of bees, suggesting potential facilitative effects for pollination and highlighting the fundamental importance of bees in Mediterranean-type ecosystems. We offer our unbiased approach as a starting point for more extensive, global investigations of the diversity of floral sensory phenotypes and its role in the community ecology of plant–pollinator interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalNature Ecology & Evolution
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

Cite this