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A female green orchid bee (Euglossa viridissima) gathers floral resins from a Clusia lanceolata plant to use in brood cell construction.

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A female green orchid bee (Euglossa viridissima) gathers floral resins from a Clusia lanceolata plant to use in brood cell construction. A resin mass is visible on the hind leg. Almost 200 species of orchid bees are the exclusive pollinators of orchids in the neotropics. The orchids produce species-specific blends of fragrances, which male orchid bees collect and use during courtship, pollinating the orchids during the collection. These orchids are absent in Florida, where the green orchid bee has recently naturalized. Chemical analysis from storage organs in make green orchid bees has identified over 50 fragrance compounds, including 27 known to occur in orchid species pollinated by the green orchid bee in Mesoamerica. Aromatic leaves, such as basil, were found to be important surrogate sources for the necessary compounds. These findings suggest that the mutualism, which is known to be obligatory for the orchids, is facultative for some orchid bee species. This photograph originally appeared on the cover of Ecology (87:8) in August of 2006.
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Format
Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords mutualism, obligatory, facultative, pollination, courtship, resin
Key taxa green orchid bee, Euglossa viridissima, Clusia lanceolata
Audience
Intended End User Role
Language
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Description This photograph could be used to illustrate mutualism, the difference between facultative and obligate mutualisms, or pollination.
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Invasive Plant Research Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Primary Author email bobpem@ars.usda.gov
Rights Copyright 2006 by the Ecological Society of America.
Date Of Record Submission 2008-04-07

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