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Reciprocal Coevolution And Plant Pollinator Interactions Essay

1515 words - 7 pages

Interactions between plants and their pollinators has been discussed in the past very frequently. Since the Darwinian times, the topic flourished. There are two aspects that have an important role in this relationship that have been affected by the history. The first being the floral mechanisms and the ecological relationships between plants and the second are the evolutionary processes that affect the pollination (1). As the interest progressed, the approaches became more specific and detailed which led to a more fine scaled insight into plant-pollinator relationship specialization. Due to specific interactions between the plant and its pollinator a terminology of a ‘plant syndrome’ has been introduced, which gives a possibility to distinguish the way a plant has been pollinated (2). Some even suggest that the latitude and high specificity of interactions lead to specialization of the pollination patterns because every region requires varied behavioural patterns (3) as seen in Figure 1.

Fig. 1. Relationships between latitude and pollinator specialisation for the community survey and asclepiad data sets. a. Community surveys of plant-flower visitor relationships. Mean number of species of flower visitors per plant species has been log transformed. Pearson’s product moment correlation: r=0.33,
df=33, p=0.051. b. Pollinators of asclepiads. Spearman rank correlation: r=0.33, n=91, p=0.002. c. ollinators of asclepiads, corrected for sampling effort. Spearman rank correlation: r=0.09,n=59, p=0.51.

Tylianakis et al (2008) suggested that the pollinator interaction networks might be prone to changes due to the anthropogenic influence. The climate change, habitat fragmentation, pesticide and pollution levels have a potential effect the plant-pollinator interactions. Apart from the anthropogenic influence, the invasive species might alter the plant-pollinator relationship in a negative way, either directly or indirectly. These, howeve need to be tested before being confirmed (Mitchell et al, 2009). Although recently, there have been discussions about a different view. A generalized pollination system that has been widespread as well as the specialization of the pollination systems has been questioned (Waser, 1996).

The specificity of the pollination relationships is thought to have roots in the preference of individuals. Specific scents, colours, shapes and morphology and combinations of those attract different groups of pollinators. The obvious colour preference or simply the morphology of the flower that determines the size of a species that can get to the pollen and nectar affect the pollinator’s response. Due to certain restrictions, only specific species can act as a vector and that led to specialization of a relationship. It was more of a key and lock mechanism rather than a coincidental coevolution. Since the species that could not get to the specific flower, carried on until it found a suitable one. This therefore does not necessarily...

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