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High-speed video and artificial flowers shed light on mysteries of hummingbird-pollinated flowers
Date:11/20/2012

re intriguing, says Dr Sapir: "Because flowers need pollinators to reproduce, flowers have evolved to attract pollinators. Almost all hummingbird-pollinated flowers hang down vertically, so our hypothesis was that they evolved this way because hummingbirds would have to use less energy to feed from them. We found the opposite that it's more costly in energy terms for hummingbirds to feed from these flowers."

In evolutionary terms, this means other factors must be at play. "Our findings suggest other factors may be dictating flower orientation. Flowers may need to exclude less efficient pollinators, such as insects, and so flowers that hang down vertically may be selected during evolution to increase pollination efficiency. And horizontal flowers are more exposed to rain, which can dilute the amount of nectar in a flower, and we know that hummingbirds can tell how sweet nectar is, so they may select downward-facing flowers because their nectar is less diluted by rain and thus contains the most sugar."


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Contact: Becky Allen
beckyallen@ntlworld.com
44-012-235-70016
Wiley
Source:Eurekalert

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