When is an asymmetric plant-pollinator relationship symmetrical ?

  • Pavel Kindlmann Institute of Systems Biology and Ecology AS CR and University of South Bohemia, Branišovská 31, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic.
  • David L. Roberts Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB, UK.


The Orchidaceae is a highly evolved, pollinator orientated family with some of the most specialized pollination systems. It has been suggestedthat plant specialization should be considered along with the degree of specialization of the mutualist partners and that bothsides of the mutualistic interaction need to be evaluated to gain insights into the response of species to habitat fragmentation. Here weraise the question of reward systems, in particular, species that are pollinated through deception. The model is applied to two specialistplant genera with different means of deception, food and sexual, and compare the levels of decline of the two genera throughout Europe.We show that there is a highly significant difference between Dactylorhiza (food deceptive) and Ophrys (sexually deceptive) in the rate ofdecline, with Ophrys suffering much stronger decline consistently across Europe.