Mate-Searching Behaviour of Common and Rare Wasps and the Implications for Pollen Movement of the Sexually Deceptive Orchids They Pollinate Academic Article uri icon


  • Pollinator behaviour directly affects patterns of pollen movement and outcrossing rates in plants. In orchids pollinated by sexual deception of insects, patterns of pollen movement are primarily determined by the mate-searching behaviour of the deceived males. Here, using a capture-mark-recapture study (CMR) and dietary analysis, we compare mate-searching behaviour in relation to local abundance of two pollinator species and explore the implications for pollen movement in sexually deceptive Drakaea (Orchidaceae). Drakaea are pollinated solely by the sexual deception of male thynnine wasps. The rare Drakaea elastica and widespread D. livida occur sympatrically and are pollinated by the rare but locally common Zaspilothynnus gilesi, and the widespread and abundant Z. nigripes, respectively. Local abundance was significantly different with Z. nigripes twice as abundant as Z. gilesi. For the 653 marked wasps, there was no significant difference in median movement distance between Z. gilesi and Z. nigripes. However, the maximum movement distance was twice as high for Z. gilesi (556 m) compared with Z. nigripes (267 m). This is up to three times greater than previously reported for thynnines in CMR studies. Recapture rates were six times higher in Z. gilesi (57%) compared to Z. nigripes (9%). Pollen loads and wasp longevity were similar, suggesting that this difference in recapture rate arises due to differences in the number of males moving at a scale >500 m rather than through diet or mortality. Differences in the frequency of longer movements may arise due to variation in the spatial distribution of the wingless females. We predict that pollen movement will largely be restricted to within populations of Drakaea (<500 m), with few movements between populations (>500 m).


publication date

  • 2013