Floral colour structure in two Australian herbaceous communities: it depends on who is looking

Mani Shrestha, Adrian G. Dyer, Jair E. Garcia, Martin Burd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Pollinator-mediated interactions between plant species may affect the composition of angiosperm communities. Floral colour signals should play a role in these interactions, but the role will arise from the visual perceptions and behavioural responses of multiple pollinators. Recent advances in the visual sciences can be used to inform our understanding of these perceptions and responses. We outline the application of appropriate visual principles to the analysis of the annual cycle of floral colour structure in two Australian herbaceous communities. METHODS: We used spectrographic measurements of petal reflectance to determine the location of flowers in a model of hymenopteran colour vision. These representations of colour perception were then translated to a behaviourally relevant metric of colour differences using empirically calibrated colour discrimination functions for four hymenopteran species. We then analysed the pattern of colour similarity in terms of this metric in samples of co-flowering plants over the course of a year. We used the same method to analyse the annual pattern of phylogenetic relatedness of co-flowering plants in order to compare colour structure and phylogenetic structure. KEY RESULTS: Co-flowering communities at any given date seldom had colour assemblages significantly different from random. Non-random structure, both dispersion and clustering, occurred occasionally, but depended on which bee observer is considered. The degree of colour similarity was unrelated to phylogenetic similarity within a co-flowering community. CONCLUSIONS: Perceived floral colour structure varied with the sensory capabilities of the observer. The lack of colour structure at most sample dates, particularly the rarity of strong dispersion, suggests that plants do not use chromatic signals primarily to enable bees to discriminate between co-flowering species. It is more likely that colours make plants detectable in a complex landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-232
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Botany
Volume124
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • Community
  • competition
  • facilitation
  • floral colour
  • insect vision
  • pollination

Cite this

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title = "Floral colour structure in two Australian herbaceous communities: it depends on who is looking",
abstract = "BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Pollinator-mediated interactions between plant species may affect the composition of angiosperm communities. Floral colour signals should play a role in these interactions, but the role will arise from the visual perceptions and behavioural responses of multiple pollinators. Recent advances in the visual sciences can be used to inform our understanding of these perceptions and responses. We outline the application of appropriate visual principles to the analysis of the annual cycle of floral colour structure in two Australian herbaceous communities. METHODS: We used spectrographic measurements of petal reflectance to determine the location of flowers in a model of hymenopteran colour vision. These representations of colour perception were then translated to a behaviourally relevant metric of colour differences using empirically calibrated colour discrimination functions for four hymenopteran species. We then analysed the pattern of colour similarity in terms of this metric in samples of co-flowering plants over the course of a year. We used the same method to analyse the annual pattern of phylogenetic relatedness of co-flowering plants in order to compare colour structure and phylogenetic structure. KEY RESULTS: Co-flowering communities at any given date seldom had colour assemblages significantly different from random. Non-random structure, both dispersion and clustering, occurred occasionally, but depended on which bee observer is considered. The degree of colour similarity was unrelated to phylogenetic similarity within a co-flowering community. CONCLUSIONS: Perceived floral colour structure varied with the sensory capabilities of the observer. The lack of colour structure at most sample dates, particularly the rarity of strong dispersion, suggests that plants do not use chromatic signals primarily to enable bees to discriminate between co-flowering species. It is more likely that colours make plants detectable in a complex landscape.",
keywords = "Community, competition, facilitation, floral colour, insect vision, pollination",
author = "Mani Shrestha and Dyer, {Adrian G.} and Garcia, {Jair E.} and Martin Burd",
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Floral colour structure in two Australian herbaceous communities : it depends on who is looking. / Shrestha, Mani; Dyer, Adrian G.; Garcia, Jair E.; Burd, Martin.

In: Annals of Botany, Vol. 124, No. 2, 24.09.2019, p. 221-232.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Floral colour structure in two Australian herbaceous communities

T2 - it depends on who is looking

AU - Shrestha, Mani

AU - Dyer, Adrian G.

AU - Garcia, Jair E.

AU - Burd, Martin

PY - 2019/9/24

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N2 - BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Pollinator-mediated interactions between plant species may affect the composition of angiosperm communities. Floral colour signals should play a role in these interactions, but the role will arise from the visual perceptions and behavioural responses of multiple pollinators. Recent advances in the visual sciences can be used to inform our understanding of these perceptions and responses. We outline the application of appropriate visual principles to the analysis of the annual cycle of floral colour structure in two Australian herbaceous communities. METHODS: We used spectrographic measurements of petal reflectance to determine the location of flowers in a model of hymenopteran colour vision. These representations of colour perception were then translated to a behaviourally relevant metric of colour differences using empirically calibrated colour discrimination functions for four hymenopteran species. We then analysed the pattern of colour similarity in terms of this metric in samples of co-flowering plants over the course of a year. We used the same method to analyse the annual pattern of phylogenetic relatedness of co-flowering plants in order to compare colour structure and phylogenetic structure. KEY RESULTS: Co-flowering communities at any given date seldom had colour assemblages significantly different from random. Non-random structure, both dispersion and clustering, occurred occasionally, but depended on which bee observer is considered. The degree of colour similarity was unrelated to phylogenetic similarity within a co-flowering community. CONCLUSIONS: Perceived floral colour structure varied with the sensory capabilities of the observer. The lack of colour structure at most sample dates, particularly the rarity of strong dispersion, suggests that plants do not use chromatic signals primarily to enable bees to discriminate between co-flowering species. It is more likely that colours make plants detectable in a complex landscape.

AB - BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Pollinator-mediated interactions between plant species may affect the composition of angiosperm communities. Floral colour signals should play a role in these interactions, but the role will arise from the visual perceptions and behavioural responses of multiple pollinators. Recent advances in the visual sciences can be used to inform our understanding of these perceptions and responses. We outline the application of appropriate visual principles to the analysis of the annual cycle of floral colour structure in two Australian herbaceous communities. METHODS: We used spectrographic measurements of petal reflectance to determine the location of flowers in a model of hymenopteran colour vision. These representations of colour perception were then translated to a behaviourally relevant metric of colour differences using empirically calibrated colour discrimination functions for four hymenopteran species. We then analysed the pattern of colour similarity in terms of this metric in samples of co-flowering plants over the course of a year. We used the same method to analyse the annual pattern of phylogenetic relatedness of co-flowering plants in order to compare colour structure and phylogenetic structure. KEY RESULTS: Co-flowering communities at any given date seldom had colour assemblages significantly different from random. Non-random structure, both dispersion and clustering, occurred occasionally, but depended on which bee observer is considered. The degree of colour similarity was unrelated to phylogenetic similarity within a co-flowering community. CONCLUSIONS: Perceived floral colour structure varied with the sensory capabilities of the observer. The lack of colour structure at most sample dates, particularly the rarity of strong dispersion, suggests that plants do not use chromatic signals primarily to enable bees to discriminate between co-flowering species. It is more likely that colours make plants detectable in a complex landscape.

KW - Community

KW - competition

KW - facilitation

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KW - insect vision

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DO - 10.1093/aob/mcz043

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VL - 124

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EP - 232

JO - Annals of Botany

JF - Annals of Botany

SN - 0305-7364

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