Floral temperature patterns can function as floral guides

Michael J M Harrap, Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, Heather M Whitney, Sean A Rands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


Floral guides are signal patterns that lead pollinators to floral rewards after they have located the flower, and increase foraging efficiency and pollen transfer. Patterns of several floral signalling modalities, particularly colour patterns, have been identified as being able to function as floral guides. Floral temperature frequently shows patterns that can be used by bumblebees for locating and recognising the flower, but whether these temperature patterns can function as a floral guide has not been explored. Furthermore, how combined patterns (using multiple signalling modalities) affect floral guide function has only been investigated in a few modality combinations. We assessed how artificial flowers induce behaviours in bumblebees when rewards are indicated by unimodal temperature patterns, unimodal colour patterns or multimodal combinations of these. Bees visiting flowers with unimodal temperature patterns showed an increased probability of finding rewards and increased learning of reward location, compared to bees visiting flowers without patterns. However, flowers with contrasting unimodal colour patterns showed further guide-related behavioural changes in addition to these, such as reduced reward search times and attraction to the rewarding feeder without learning. This shows that temperature patterns alone can function as a floral guide, but with reduced efficiency. When temperature patterns were added to colour patterns, bees showed similar improvements in learning reward location and reducing their number of failed visits in addition to the responses seen to colour patterns. This demonstrates that temperature pattern guides can have beneficial effects on flower handling both when alone or alongside colour patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalArthropod-Plant Interactions
Early online date13 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • pollination
  • multimodality
  • floral displays
  • floral guides
  • temperature patterns
  • plant-pollinator evolution


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