Cognition Mediated Floral Evolution: Pollinator Decision Making in a Virtual Pollination Ecology Paradigm

Using conventional methods it is extremely difficult to test hypotheses and even to make predictions about the strength and outcome of pollinator exerted selection in plantpollinator systems. These co-evolutionary relationships are highly complex: plants with different nectar production characteristics compete with each other for pollinator visits and pollinators compete for nectar. Furthermore, the decision-making mechanisms that pollinators, especially mammals such as nectar-feeding bats, employ in order to choose between different nectar sources are still poorly understood. These hurdles can be overcome by the novel research method virtual pollination ecology, in which the evolution of virtual plants is guided by the cognitive choices of real pollinators. It is planned to apply this method using artificial flowers with user-controllable nectar production characteristics and nectar-feeding bats as well as different insect pollinators as model animals. The goal of this study is to analyze the nectar production patterns that are being virtually selected by the different pollinator groups in order to understand how the pollinators' cognitive mechanisms affect the evolution of flowering plants.

Principal investigators
Winter, York Prof. Dr. (Details) (Cognitive Neurobiology)

Volkswagen-Stiftung (VW)

Duration of project
Start date: 06/2009
End date: 12/2012

Last updated on 2022-08-09 at 09:08