Journal Article

Signal honesty and cost of pollinator rewards in <i>Dalechampia scandens</i> (Euphorbiaceae)

Christophe Pélabon, Patrick Thöne, Thomas F. Hansen and W. Scott Armbruster

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 109, issue 7, pages 1331-1340
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Signal honesty and cost of pollinator rewards in Dalechampia scandens (Euphorbiaceae)

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Background and Aims

Most species of Dalechampia vines (Euphorbiaceae) attract bee pollinators with terpenoid resins secreted by a gland-like structure in the inflorescence. In some species, pollinating bees appear to preferentially visit inflorescences (blossoms) with large resin-producing glands, whereas in other species bees preferentially visit blossoms with large involucral bracts. In this study, the reliability of bract and gland size as signals of the quantity of resin produced in one species, D. scandens, was assessed. Whether resin secretion has a cost with respect to the number or mass of the seeds produced by a blossom was also examined.


Measurements were made of bract size, gland size and the amount of resin secreted by blossoms of D. scandens maintained in a common environment, and the relationships between these traits were analysed. Resin production was also manipulated, and the effects of the manipulation were tested on seed set and seed mass.

Key Results

The amount of resin produced was better predicted by the size of the gland than by the size of the bract. Furthermore, when the effect of gland size was accounted for, bract size only weakly predicted the amount of resin produced. Neither an increase in resin secretion (by daily removal of the resin) nor a decrease (by removal of the resin gland) affected seed set or seed mass detectably, but resin production correlated positively with mean seed mass at the individual level once the size of the resin gland was accounted for.


Gland size is a better indicator of the amount of reward than bract size, although the latter remained an honest signal of the quantity of resin produced. Resin secretion has no detectable cost in terms of seed production, but may be condition dependent, as suggested by a positive correlation with seed mass at the individual level.

Keywords: Dalechampia scandens; blossom; signal honesty; nectar; pollination; reward; seed production; terpenoid resin; condition dependence

Journal Article.  6161 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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