Great Basin Naturalist


Pollinator preferences were observed for the six species of section Erythranthe of the genus Mimulus using greenhouse-grown plants placed in a meadow in the Red Butte Canyon Natural Area, Salt Lake County, Utah. The principal pollinators were hummingbirds and bumble bees. Hummingbirds preferred the species with the most reflexed tubular flowers regardless of color, whereas bumblebees preferred pink. lavender, or yellow flowers to red flowers regardless of shape. Results for the six species were confirmed by observations of F2 hybrid recombinant plants selected such that flower color could be held constant and flower shape varied and vice versa.


The article states: "Hummingbirds are commonly said to have evolved a preference for red or orange-red flowers," citing (1) K.A. Grant, 1966, A hypothesis concerning the prevalence of red coloration in California hummingbird flowers, American NaturaIist 100:85–98; and (2) K.A. Grant and V. Grant, 1968, Hummingbirds and their flowers, Columbia University Press, New York, 115 pp., among other references. In fact, the Grants point out just the opposite, i.e., that experimental investigation shows that hummingbirds have not evolved a preference for red or any other color. Actually, Sutherland and Vickery's article comes to this conclusion also.
Erratum notice here: gbn/vol56/iss3/15/