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Sex in advertising: dioecy alters the net benefits of attractiveness in Sagittaria latifolia (Alismataceae).


The flowers and inflorescences of animal-pollinated dioecious plants are generally small and inconspicuous in comparison with outcrossing cosexual species. The net benefits of an attractive floral display may be different for dioecious compared to cosexual populations because dioecious species experience a more severe reduction in pollen delivery when pollinators forage longer on fewer individuals. Here, we develop a model that predicts the decrease in pollen delivery in dioecious relative to cosexual populations from female-female, female-male and male-male visit sequences as the number of individuals visited varies. To evaluate the predictions of our model we conducted a common garden experiment with dioecious and monoecious (cosexual) arrays of the insect-pollinated herb Sagittaria latifolia. We find that, although increasing the advertisements of floral rewards (i.e. increasing floral display) attracts more pollinators to individuals, the probability that these pollinators subsequently deliver pollen to neighbouring plants depends on sexual system. Because the number of individual plants visited per foraging trip did not increase significantly with floral display, the relative pollination success of dioecious versus monoecious populations decreases with increased floral display. We propose that this could explain why dioecy is strongly correlated with reduced floral display among angiosperm species.


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    Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Canada.



    Proceedings. Biological sciences 273:1599 2006 Sep 22 pg 2401-7



    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



    PubMed ID