Photo of Michael J M Harrap

Dr Michael J M Harrap

BSc, MscR, PhD

  • BS8 1TQ


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

My interests are within the field of pollination ecology and pollinator behaviour. I am fascinated by the interaction between pollinators and plants, especially how pollinators learn floral displays.

The reproductive success of animal pollinated plants depends on pollen transport, which requires consistent visits by pollinators to flowers of the same species. Likewise the success of pollinators depends on their ability to find flowers in a complex environment, learn which flowers are the most rewarding available and recognise them later. To ensure visitation plants produce floral displays which pollinators can use to locate flowers and learn their identity. These displays are ‘multi-modal’, they present a variety of different kinds of signals, modalities, at once. The different modalities of floral signals include: colour, smell, texture, electrostatic and temperature cues. For the most part research has considered how pollinators respond to individual modalities, focusing primarily on scent and colour cues.

My PhD project looks at why flowers produce many different kinds of signal at once. Using learning experiments with bumblebees in the Bristol Bee Lab, I investigate what factors of the floral display bumblebees can detect and learn. I also investigate the different ways bees can use these cues and how they use different cues when presented together in a multimodal floral display. Alongside Bee Lab experiments, at my field site at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, I investigate how the weather may interfere with different signals at different times, investigating the possibility flowers produce multimodal displays to ensure detection across different conditions. My project aims to expand our understanding of how pollinators use flowers and the evolution of floral displays.

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Research Output

  • 5 Article (Academic Journal)

Floral humidity in flowering plants: a preliminary survey

Harrap, M. J. M., Hempel de Ibarra, N., Knowles, H. D., Whitney, H. M. & Rands, S. A., 6 Mar 2020, In : Frontiers in Plant Science. 11, 20 p., 249.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Open Access
  • 40 Downloads (Pure)

    Floral temperature patterns can function as floral guides

    Harrap, M. J. M., Hempel de Ibarra, N., Whitney, H. M. & Rands, S. A., Apr 2020, In : Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 14, p. 193-206 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 68 Downloads (Pure)

    Cross-modal transfer in visual and nonvisual cues in bumblebees

    Harrap, M. J. M., Lawson, D. A., Whitney, H. M. & Rands, S. A., 1 Jun 2019, In : Journal of Comparative Physiology A. 205, 3, p. 427-437 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

    Open Access
  • 2 Citations (Scopus)
    265 Downloads (Pure)

    Supervised Work

    Expanding Floral Multimodality: Floral Temperature and Floral Humidity

    Author: Harrap, M., 25 Jun 2019

    Supervisor: Whitney, H. (Supervisor), Rands, S. (Supervisor) & Hempel de Ibarra, N. (External person) (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)