Foraging behavior of nectarivores and pollen collectors

Keith D. Waddington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Pollinators' behavior prior to 1970 was studied by botanists primarily interested in plant reproduction and floral biology. Now for 25 years animal behaviorists have worked as, or with, pollination biologists, using a range of behavioral techniques and models, to dissect and understand pollinator foraging behavior. Foragers must make decisions and choose among flowers on each departure from a flower. The choice may be of which flower to visit on the same plant or a flower of the same or different species. My work has focused on how foragers acquire information about floral characteristics and cost-gain associations, the internal representation of this information, and how the representation is used to make choices. This foraging process is illustrated through 1) studies of honey bees' subjective evaluations of costs and gains and 2) studies of choice behavior based on expected intakes of food and variation in nectar volume and concentration (risk-sensitive foraging behavior). I will focus also on the neglected area of genetically based variation in foraging behavior. In honey bees, nearly all aspects of foraging behavior studied thus far, including perception of and preferences for pollen and nectar, have a genetic component. Studies of the relationships between information available in the environment (floral color and scent, nectar distribution), mechanisms which underlie assessment of the information (perception, learning), resulting choice behavior, and the genetic contribution to these will further our understanding of pollinator behavior and its evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-191
Number of pages17
JournalActa Horticulturae
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • Bumblebee
  • Choice-behavior
  • Dance language
  • Foraging behavior
  • Honey bee
  • Risk-sensitivity
  • Subjective evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture


Dive into the research topics of 'Foraging behavior of nectarivores and pollen collectors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this