Nectar mimicry: a new phenomenon

Klaus Lunau*, Zong-Xin Ren*, Xiao-Qing Fan, Judith Trunschke, Graham H. Pyke, Hong Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)
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    Nectar is the most common floral reward for flower-visiting flies, bees, bats and birds. Many flowers hide nectar in the floral tube and preclude sensing of nectar by flower-visitors from a distance. Even in those flowers that offer easily accessible nectar, the nectaries are mostly inconspicuous to the human eye and the amount of nectar is sparse. It is widely accepted that many flowers display nectar guides in order to direct flower-visitors towards the nectar. Using false colour photography, covering ultraviolet, blue and green ranges of wavelength, revealed a yet unknown conspicuousness of nectar, nectaries and false nectaries for bees due to concordant reflection in the ultraviolet range of wavelength. Nectars, many nectaries and false nectaries have glossy surfaces and reflect all incident light including UV-light. In most cases, this is not particularly conspicuous to the human eye, but highly visible for UV-sensitive insects, due to the fact that the glossy areas are often positioned in UV-absorbing central flower parts and thus produce a strong UV-signal. The optical contrast produced by the glossiness of small smooth areas in close proximity to nectar holders represents a widespread yet overlooked floral cue that nectarivorous flower-visitors might use to locate the floral nectar.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number7039
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalScientific Reports
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2020

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    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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