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Global patterns of color evolution of bird-pollinated flowers

PI(s): Martin Burd (Monash University)
Start Date: 5-Jan-2015
End Date: 30-Jan-2015
Keywords: biogeography, comparative methods, ecology, macroevolution

I propose to test whether the bird-pollinated flora of Australia and the American continents have convergent floral colors, and whether they diverge from bird-pollinated species in Africa and Asia. This expectation arises from differences in color perception between the major bird pollinators in Australia and America, honeyeaters and hummingbirds, which share an ancestral form of color vision, and the sunbirds, with a derived form of color vision, are major pollinators but hummingbirds and honeyeaters are absent. This project will draw on a data set of floral reflectance spectra for over 550 species and extends a previous analysis conducted at NESCent on just the Australian floral to a global scale. It will be the most rigourous test yet conducted of convergent evolution of a pollination syndrome, and add an intercontinental biogeographic dimension to the study of pollination syndromes.