|Title||Timing is everything: temporal variation in floral scent, and its connections to pollinator behavior and female reproductive success in Phlox divaricata|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2015|
|Authors||Majetic, CJ, Wiggam, SD, Ferguson, CJ, Raguso, RA|
|Journal||American Midland Naturalist|
The study of floral traits and pollination for the plant genus Phlox has historically been focused on either surveys of general pollinator affinities across the genus or detailed research on pollinator-mediated evolution of floral color in a single species (Phlox drummondii). The purpose of this study was to explore a different kind of trait – floral scent – in Phlox divaricata, a species noted for its strong scent. Specifically, we predicted the diel emission patterns of floral scent might covary with the daily abundance of diurnal moths, identified in a previous study as the most important pollinators in a Konza Prairie population of P. divaricata. Consistent with this prediction, we documented peaks in median floral scent emissions at 1000–1200 and 1930–2130, coinciding with peaks in moth visitation and resulting seed production. Two groups of scent compounds contributed to this pattern; linalool and its associated lilac aldehyde/alcohol compounds (especially lilac aldehyde B) contributed a greater proportion to scent at 1000–1200, while aromatic compounds (including benzaldehyde and benzyl acetate) contributed a greater proportion to scent at 1930–2130 and other afternoon time periods. These volatiles are known floral attractants for several lepidopteran pollinators, including noctuid moths. However, there is an additional peak in pollinator abundance (Hemaris diurnal hawkmoths) and seed set at a time when scent production is relatively low (1400–1600) suggesting additional factors mediate both pollinator behavior and floral volatile emissions. Future studies of P. divaricata should test for the presence of destructive floral enemies that might be attracted by floral volatiles during mid-afternoon periods, as well as the importance of visual floral traits (color, shape) in attracting diurnal moths, an important functional group of pollinators that has received minimal attention in North America.