Wind drives temporal variation in pollinator visitation in a fragmented tropical forest

James D. Crall, Julia Brokaw, Susan F. Gagliardi, Chase D. Mendenhall, Naomi E. Pierce, Stacey A. Combes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Wind is a critical factor in the ecology of pollinating insects such as bees. However, the role of wind in determining patterns of bee abundance and floral visitation rates across space and time is not well understood. Orchid bees are an important and diverse group of neotropical pollinators that harvest pollen, nectar and resin from plants. In addition, male orchid bees collect volatile scents that they store in special chambers in their hind legs, and for which the wind-based dispersal of odours may play a particularly crucial role. Here, we take advantage of this specialized scent foraging behaviour to study the effects of wind on orchid bee visitation at scent sources in a fragmented tropical forest ecosystem. Consistent with previous work, forest cover increased orchid bee visitation. In addition, we find that temporal changes in wind speed and turbulence increase visitation to scent stations within sites. These results suggest that the increased dispersal of attractive scents provided by wind and turbulence outweighs any biomechanical or energetic costs that might deter bees from foraging in these conditions. Overall, our results highlight the significance of wind in the ecology of these important pollinators in neotropical forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20200103
JournalBiology letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Randy Figueroa for help in orchid bee collection, Rodolfo Quiros, Zak Zahawi, and the staff at Las Cruces Biological Station for logistical and informational support, and Santiago Ram?rez for help in species identification. The authors also thank Sevan Suni, Carlos Coquinho, and one anonymous reviewer for valuable comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Bee
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Orchid bees
  • Pollinator
  • Turbulence
  • Wind

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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