As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 8 March 2013

For Birds, Red Means 'Go': Some Flowers Evolved Red Hues Favored by Birds

Mar. 4, 2013 — New research has shown that certain Australian native flowers have shifted away from using insects as pollinators and evolved their flower colour to the red hues favoured by birds. 

In a study published in New Phytologist, biologists from Monash University and RMIT University have shown for the first time that Australian native flowers exclusively pollinated by birds have evolved colour spectral signatures that are best discriminated by those birds. 

Dr Adrian Dyer of Monash and RMIT said previous studies had shown that flower colour evolved to attract bees as pollinators. 

"We know that some flowers had evolved spectral signatures to suit bee pollinators, but the story for bird-pollinated flowers was not clear," Dr Dyer said. 

Lead author and PhD student Mani Shrestha of the Monash School of Biological Sciences collected spectral data from over 200 flowering plants and identified the pollinators as birds or insects. Then with Associate Professor Martin Burd -- also of the School of Biological Sciences -- did phylogenetic analyses to identify how the flowers have evolved spectral signatures. 

"We found that flowers exclusively pollinated by birds had initially evolved to suit insect vision, but more recently the spectral signature of bird-pollinated flowers had shifted towards longer wavelengths," Mr Shesthra said 

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