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Drought and leaf herbivory influence floral volatiles and pollinator attraction


Laura A. Burkle



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Rocky Mountain Research Station


Global Change Biology. 22: 1644-1654.


The effects of climate change on species interactions are poorly understood. Investigating the mechanisms by which species interactions may shift under altered environmental conditions will help form a more predictive understanding of such shifts. In particular, components of climate change have the potential to strongly influence floral volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and, in turn, plant-pollinator interactions. In this study, we experimentally manipulated drought and herbivory for four forb species to determine effects of these treatments and their interactions on (1) visual plant traits traditionally associated with pollinator attraction, (2) floral VOCs, and (3) the visitation rates and community composition of pollinators. For all forbs tested, experimental drought universally reduced flower size and floral display, but there were species-specific effects of drought on volatile emissions per flower, the composition of compounds produced, and subsequent pollinator visitation rates. Moreover, the community of pollinating visitors was influenced by drought across forb species (i.e. some pollinator species were deterred by drought while others were attracted). Together, these results indicate that VOCs may provide more nuanced information to potential floral visitors and may be relatively more important than visual traits for pollinator attraction, particularly under shifting environmental conditions.


Burkle, Laura A.; Runyon, Justin B. 2016. Drought and leaf herbivory influence floral volatiles and pollinator attraction. Global Change Biology. 22: 1644-1654.


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