Implications of pollination by food and sexual deception for pollinator specificity, fruit set, population genetics and conservation of Caladenia (Orchidaceae) Academic Article uri icon


  • Caladenia is very unusual in that it contains species that attract pollinators by two different strategies, food and sexual deception. Among the sexually deceptive species, baiting for pollinators has shown that within populations orchid species are typically pollinated by a single species of thynnine wasp. However, some wasp species can be pollinators of more than one species of orchid usually when their ranges do not overlap. There is a trend for closely related orchids to exploit wasps from the same genus, with different lineages of orchids often pollinated by different genera. Very little is known about pollination of food-deceptive Caladenia species, although it is evident they attract a suite of generalist food-seeking insects. Food-deceptive species have a higher pollination rate than do sexually deceptive species. Studies of population genetics and pollen movements are few, although they suggest a pattern of fine-scale genetic structuring within populations, owing to predominantly restricted seed dispersal and low genetic differentiation among populations as a consequence of rare long-distance seed-dispersal events. Both evolutionary and ecological research of Caladenia will greatly benefit from a better understanding of the insect species involved in pollination, their ecological requirements and the ecological and genetic consequences of food and sexual deception.

publication date

  • 2009