Over 22,000 species of biotically pollinated flowering plants, including some major agricultural crops, depend primarily on bees capable of floral sonication for pollination services. The ability to sonicate (“buzz”) flowers is widespread in bees but not ubiquitous. Despite the prevalence of this pollinator behavior and its importance to natural and agricultural systems, the evolutionary history of floral sonication in bees has not been previously studied. Here, we reconstruct the evolutionary history of floral sonication in bees by generating a time‐calibrated phylogeny and reconstructing ancestral states for this pollen extraction behavior. We also test the hypothesis that the ability to sonicate flowers and thereby efficiently access pollen from a diverse assemblage of plant species, led to increased diversification among sonicating bee taxa. We find that floral sonication evolved on average 45 times within bees, possibly first during the Early Cretaceous (100–145 million years ago) in the common ancestor of bees. We find that sonicating lineages are significantly more species rich than nonsonicating sister lineages when comparing sister clades, but a probabilistic structured rate permutation on phylogenies approach failed to support the hypothesis that floral sonication is a key driver of bee diversification. This study provides the evolutionary framework needed to further study how floral sonication by bees may have facilitated the spread and common evolution of angiosperm species with poricidal floral morphology.
Evolution – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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