Behavioural and morphological traits influence sex-specific floral resource use by hummingbirds

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  • María A. Maglianesi
  • Pietro K. Maruyama
  • Ethan J. Temeles
  • Matthias Schleuning
  • Thais B. Zanata
  • Marlies Sazima
  • Aquiles Gutiérrez-Zamora
  • Oscar H. Marín-Gómez
  • Liliana Rosero-Lasprilla
  • Mónica B. Ramírez-Burbano
  • Alejandra E. Ruffini
  • J. Ricardo Salamanca-Reyes
  • Ivan Sazima
  • Laura E. Nuñez-Rosas
  • María del Coro Arizmendi
  • Rahbek, Carsten
  • Dalsgaard, Bo

Research on resource partitioning in plant–pollinator mutualistic systems is mainly concentrated at the levels of species and communities, whereas differences between males and females are typically ignored. Nevertheless, pollinators often show large sexual differences in behaviour and morphology, which may lead to sex-specific patterns of resource use with the potential to differentially affect plant reproduction and diversification. We investigated variation in behavioural and morphological traits between sexes of hummingbird species as potential mechanisms underlying sex-specific flower resource use in ecological communities. To do so, we compiled a dataset of plant–hummingbird interactions based on pollen loads for 31 hummingbird species from 13 localities across the Americas, complemented by data on territorial behaviour (territorial or non-territorial) and morphological traits (bill length, bill curvature, wing length and body mass). We assessed the extent of intersexual differences in niche breadth and niche overlap in floral resource use across hummingbird species. Then, we tested whether floral niche breadth and overlap between sexes are associated with sexual dimorphism in behavioural or morphological traits of hummingbird species while accounting for evolutionary relatedness among the species. We found striking differences in patterns of floral resource use between sex. Females had a broader floral niche breadth and were more dissimilar in the plant species visited with respect to males of the same species, resulting in a high level of resource partitioning between sexes. We found that both territoriality and morphological traits were related to sex-specific resource use by hummingbird species. Notably, niche overlap between sexes was greater for territorial than non-territorial species, and moreover, niche overlap was negatively associated with sexual dimorphism in bill curvature across hummingbird species. These results reveal the importance of behavioural and morphological traits of hummingbird species in sex-specific resource use and that resource partitioning by sex is likely to be an important mechanism to reduce intersexual competition in hummingbirds. These findings highlight the need for better understanding the putative role of intersexual variation in shaping patterns of interactions and plant reproduction in ecological communities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2171-2180
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology © 2022 British Ecological Society.

    Research areas

  • behaviour, hummingbirds, morphological traits, niche breadth, niche overlap, pollen loads, resource similarity, sex differences

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