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‘An Exploration of the Sexually Deceptive Relationship Between the Ophrys Speculum and the Scoliid Wasp’
In this study it will be demonstrated that the combination of aesthetic and pheromones are key to attracting its sole pollinator the Dasyscolia ciliata to the mirror orchid Ophrys Speculum subsp. Speculum (Kew, 2008, para. 2) rather than just the individual factors (visual and chemical-.
The orchid in question is pollinated exclusively by the Scoliid wasp in regions of Portugal, Spain and Cyprus solely found in habitats of stony and rocky places, grassland, scrub and pine forests.
The specific location that has been chosen to conduct this experiment in is Algarve region in Portugal, with different locations of habitat as described above so to gain the best knowledge of how these wasps copulate while attempting to account for confounding factors such as different habitats.
The flowering of this orchid species begins in February and continues through to April (Kew, 2008, para .6), with a climate of mainly sunny with average daylight hours ranging from 10 to 12 and the average temperatures ranging from 12 to 21 degrees.
The methodology will be based on a correlational behavioural experiment to get the best gauge of the flowers and wasps in their natural environment as well as setting up the other replicates using random assignment, all of which are as follows:
Table 1. Factors of experiment- Flower type and treatment.
Real orchid Ophrys Speculum
Fake orchid Ophrys Speculum
Treated (sprayed with pheromone)
Real daisy Dasyscolia Ciliata
Fake daisy Dasyscolia Ciliata
The reason for using variable replicates is to determine the cause for wasps’ attraction to the Ophrys Speculum. It is known that the emitted pheromone attracts wasps by its association to reproductive success (Ayasse et al. 2011) and that the colour signal increases detectability (Paulus, Spaethe & Streinzer 2009) but by observing all variables both individually and in combination it can be determined how significant of a role each play.
To measure the effectiveness of the orchids use of combining visual cues and pheromones to sexually attract the wasps and to define which component is the strongest of the orchids’ mimicry.
It is hypothesised that the real orchid sample of Ophrys speculum will be the most effective method attracting the male wasp for pollination due to the combination of its mimicry of the female sex pheromone and visual cues perpetuated by the Dasyscolia ciliata. It is also hypothesised that the wasps will approach the fake daisy sprayed with the sex pheromone, but will not attempt to mate with it.
Type of experiment
Correlational behavioural experiment with elements of manipulation. The experiment will take place on a large property in the Algarve region of Portugal.
Experimental design principles
The experiment will be set up three 25m/25m grid with 5m/5m quadrats within. The three grids will be located in different locations within the property that possess varying environments (coastal, roadside, dense shrubs. Fig 1.) The plant samples will be randomly assigned quadrats in each grid (one sample per quadrat). For replication of the experiment the plant samples will be randomly assigned different locations each time. This replication method will eliminate pseudoreplication by ensuring the measurements taken are an accurate representation of the interactions between the wasps and the experimental units rather than by chance.
Experimental design elements
Procedural control will be the fake orchid with no pheromone spray.
The natural control will be the untreated real orchid.
Measurement will be recorded by visual monitoring systems, one in each quadrat.
The experiment will take place over 5 days.
Measurement will be made by counting the amount of times a wasps attempt to copulate with a specific samples the number will be gathered from over the five days and a mean will
To eliminate observer drift and observer bias a measurement will only be taken when an extension of the wasp genitalia is observed.
Ayasse, M., Schiestl, F., Paulus, H., Ibarra, F., & Francke, W. (2003). Pollinator attraction in a sexually deceptive orchid by means of unconventional chemicals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 270(1514), 517-522.
Ayasse, M., Schiestl, F., Paulus, H., Löfstedt, C., Hansson, B., Ibarra, F., & Francke, W. (2000).
‘Evolution of the reproductive strategies in the sexually deceptive orchid Ophrys Sphegodes. How does the flower-specific variation of odor signals influence reproductive success’
Evolution, 54(6), 1995-2006.
Ayasse, Manfred, Stökl, Johannes, & Francke, Wittko. (2011). Chemical ecology and pollinator-driven speciation in sexually deceptive orchids. Phytochemistry, 72(13), 1667-1677.
Biesmeijer, J., Giurfa, C., Koedam, M., Potts, D., Joel, S., & Dafni, G. (2005). Convergent evolution: Floral guides, stingless bee nest entrances, and insectivorous pitchers. Naturwissenschaften, 92(9), 444-450.
Devey, D. (2008). Ophrys: a case of the deceitful origin of species. Kew Scientist 33: 1.
Paulus, H., Spaethe, J., & Streinzer, M. (2009). ‘Floral colour signal increases short-range detectability of a sexually deceptive orchid to its bee pollinator.’ J Exp. Biol, 212(9), 1365-1370
Schaefer, H., & Ruxton, G. (2009). Deception in plants: Mimicry or perceptual exploitation? Trends In Ecology & Evolution, 24(12), 676-685.
Schiestl, F. (2010). Pollination: Sexual Mimicry Abounds. Current Biology, 20(23), R1020-R1022
Vignolini, S., Davey, M., Bateman, R., Rudall, P., Moyroud, E., Tratt, J., . . . Glover, B. (2012). The mirror crack'd: Both pigment and structure contribute to the glossy blue appearance of the mirror orchid, Ophrys speculum. The New Phytologist, 196(4), 1038-47.
Chapman, A., & Schuiteman, A., (2008) Kew Science. Ophrys speculum (mirror orchid). Retrieved from http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/ophrys-speculum-mirror-orchid
1in combination it can be determined how significant of a role each play.
Measurement will be made by counting the amount of times a wasps attempt to copulate with a specific samples the number will be gathered from over the fiv