The smell of environmental change: Using floral scent to explain shifts in pollinator attraction


Laura A. Burkle, Justin B. Runyon


Applications in Plant Sciences


As diverse environmental changes continue to influence the structure and function of plant-pollinator interactions across spatial and temporal scales, we will need to enlist numerous approaches to understand these changes. Quantitative examination of floral volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is one approach that is gaining popularity, and recent work suggests that floral VOCs hold substantial promise for better understanding and predicting the effects of environmental change on plant-pollinator interactions. Until recently, few ecologists were employing chemical approaches to investigate mechanisms by which components of environmental change may disrupt these essential mutualisms. In an attempt to make these approaches more accessible, we summarize the main field, laboratory, and statistical methods involved in capturing, quantifying, and analyzing floral VOCs in the context of changing environments. We also highlight some outstanding questions that we consider to be highly relevant to making progress in this field.



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