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Floral temperature and optimal foraging: is heat a feasible floral reward for pollinators?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2007
JournalPLoS ONE
Journal issue4
StatePublished - 23 Apr 2008


As well as nutritional rewards, some plants also reward ectothermic pollinators with warmth. Bumble bees have some control over their temperature, but have been shown to forage at warmer flowers when given a choice, suggesting that there is some advantage to them of foraging at warm flowers (such as reducing the energy required to raise their body to flight temperature before leaving the flower). We describe a model that considers how a heat reward affects the foraging behaviour in a thermogenic central-place forager (such as a bumble bee). We show that although the pollinator should spend a longer time on individual flowers if they are warm, the increase in total visit time is likely to be small. The pollinator's net rate of energy gain will be increased by landing on warmer flowers. Therefore, if a plant provides a heat reward, it could reduce the amount of nectar it produces, whilst still providing its pollinator with the same net rate of gain. We suggest how heat rewards may link with plant life history strategies.

Additional information

Publisher: Public Library of Science Rose publication type: Journal article Sponsorship: NERC Terms of use: © 2008 Rands, Whitney. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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