Biology

Pollination syndromes reflect convergent evolution towards forms (phenotypes) that limit the number of species of pollinators visiting the plant.[4] They increase the functional specialization of the plant with regard to pollination, though this may not affect the ecological specialization (i.e. the number of species of pollinators within that functional group).[19] They are responses to common selection pressures exerted by shared pollinators or abiotic pollen vectors, which generate correlations among traits. That is, if two distantly related plant species are both pollinated by nocturnal moths, for example, their flowers will converge on a form which is recognised by the moths (e.g. pale colour, sweet scent, nectar released at the base of a long tube, night-flowering). [edit]Advantages of specialization Efficiency of pollination: the rewards given to pollinators (commonly nectar or pollen or both, but sometimes oil,[20] scents, resins, or wax) may be costly to produce. Nectar can be cheap, but pollen is generally expensive as it is relatively high in nitrogen compounds. Plants have evolved to obtain the maximum pollen transfer for the minimum reward. Different pollinators, because of their size, shape, or behaviour, have different efficiencies of transfer of pollen. And the floral traits affect efficiency of transfer: columbine flowers were experimentally altered and presented to hawkmoths, and flower orientation, shape, and colour were found to affect visitation rates or pollen removal.[21][22] Pollinator Constancy: to efficiently transfer pollen, it is best for the plant if the pollinator focuses on one species of plant, ignoring other species. Otherwise, pollen may be dropped uselessly on the stigmas of ot er species. Animals, of course, do not aim to pollinate, they aim to collect food as fast as they can. However, many pollinator species exhibit constancy, passing up available flowers to focus on one plant species. Why should animals specialize on a plant species, rather than move to the next flower of any species? Although pollinator constancy was recognized by Aristotle, the benefits to animals are not yet fully understood.[23] The most common hypothesis is that pollinators must learn to handle particular types of flowers, and they have limited capacity to learn different types. They can only efficiently gather rewards from one type of flower. Convergent evolution describes the acquisition of the same biological trait in unrelated lineages. The wing is a classic example of convergent evolution in action. Flying insects, birds, and bats have all evolved the capacity of flight independently. They have "converged" on this useful trait. The ancestors of both bats and birds were terrestrial quadrupeds, and each has independently evolved powered flight via adaptations of their forelimbs. Although both forelimb adaptations are superficially "wing-shaped," they are substantially dissimilar in construction. The bat wing is a membrane stretched across four extremely elongated fingers, while the airfoil of the bird wing is made of feathers, which are strongly attached to the forearm (the ulna) and the highly fused bones of the wrist and hand (the carpometacarpus), with only tiny remnants of two fingers remaining, each anchoring a single feather. (Both bats and birds have retained the thumb for specialized functions.) So, while the wings of bats and birds are functionally convergent, they are not anatomically convergent.