Deceptive flowers from several plant species emit odors that mimic oviposition cues and attract female insects seeking for a laying site. Helicodiceros muscivorus is a species that emits an odor mimicking the foul smell of rotting meat and thereby attracts blowflies that usually oviposit on carcasses but are deceived into pollinating the plant. Thus, H. muscivorus is a striking case of pollination by brood‐site deception. The Balearic lizard, Podarcis lilfordi, exhibits remarkable interactions with dead horse arum. Balearic lizards, which sometimes forage on carcasses, are attracted to blooming dead horse arum. We showed experimentally that P. lilfordi can detect chemical cues from carcasses on cotton swabs and exhibits elevated tongue‐flick rates to carcass chemical cues compared to control stimuli. Lizards also detected and located hidden carcasses using only airborne chemical cues. The responses of lizards to chemical cues from the spadix of blooming dead horse arum were qualitatively and quantitatively similar to those to carcass odors. Therefore, the decay‐like odor that attracts blowflies for the plant's benefit also attracts lizards. This attraction may initially have been somewhat favorable for lizards that eat blowflies, but slightly unfavorable for plants because the lizards ate some pollinators. We suggest that lizards attracted by odor may have learned later to use the plant for thermoregulation and then consume its fruits, making the association more positive for lizards and benefitted arum by seed dispersal.
Ethology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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