Natural History Photographs

Ecological interactions of plants and animals

The reproductive organs of the flowering plants are basically designed to attract pollinators, a classic example of a mutuaslistic interaction in which both partnes benefit from their interaction - in modern parlance a win-win situation. The plants offers food, either in the form of nectar or pollen. Since for plants sugars are rarely if ever limiting, producing nectar is relatively cheap for them. Pollen bear a higher cost, as these are meant to pollinate other plants and are more expensive as their production requires proteins and hence nitrogen - often a limiting nutrient to the plant. In erturn for the food offered, insects bring pollen from one flower to anorther; or even betterm from one plant to another, promoting cross-fertilization.

The few photos below show just a handful of examples of the interaction between plants and their pollinators. The topic is at length treated in the book by Patt Wilmer (2011), Pollination and Floral Ecology.

Xylocopa violacea
Pinara (Muğla), Turkey; 13 June 2009.

Andrena barbilabris
Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, the Netherlands; 26 April and 3 May 2008.

Bees store pollen and foor for their developing larvae. After collecting the pollen, they bring their cargo to the nest where the pollen is stored. For the plant this means simply a loss of resources, as the pollen 'were meant to' fertilize another plant. The plant in this example, a Willow, has male and females plants and so for fertilization ta take place, after collecting pollen from a male plant the bee must visit a female plant to drink nectar.

Sphex flavipennis
Asmadere (Batman), Turkey; 14 June 2010.

Scolia cf.
Patara (Antalya), Turkey;
14 June 2009.
Asmadere (Batman), Turkey;
14 June 2010.
Two scolid wasps with lots of pollen attached to their bodies.

Nemestrinus caucasicus
Kumluca Köyü (Burdur), Turkey; 10 June 2012.
This long-tongued fly is well adapted to obtain nectar from this plant,
whose flowers has long spurs from which the nectar is to be collected.