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SPECIAL FEATURE Community and Evolutionary Ecology of Nectar1

Summary: 1477
Community and Evolutionary Ecology of Nectar1
Pollination is an integral part of reproduction of most flowering plants. Worldwide, 90% of
some 250 000 angiosperm species rely on pollination for successful reproduction, and nectar is
the primary resource provided by plants to attract mutualist visitors. Despite the ubiquity of
nectar as an ecosystem resource, our understanding of the importance of nectar has primarily
been confined to nectar as a food reward for pollinators. However, recent findings suggest that
nectar may mediate interactions with a wide variety of plant visitors other than pollinators. Nectar
is frequently consumed by organisms ranging from insect predators and parasitoids to lizards,
and can confer increased plant resistance or susceptibility to antagonistic plant visitors. The
composition of nectar may be important in structuring insect communities, multi-trophic inter-
actions, and ultimately plant communities via direct and indirect interactions. The physiology
and costs of nectar production, and the heritability of nectar traits, may limit the extent to which
selection by pollinators or other agents can shape the evolution of nectar traits. On the other
hand, the ability of floral visitors to find nectar may limit the extent to which animals can specialize
on this resource.
The focus of this Special Feature is to highlight the community and evolutionary ecology of
interactions that revolve around nectar as a resource. The last in-depth review of nectar was
published in 1983, (The Biology of Nectaries, B. Bentley and T. Elias, Editors. Columbia Uni-


Source: Agrawal, Anurag - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology & Entomollogy, Cornell University


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology