A rose in any other shade: Is alpine flower pollinator distribution driven by colour?

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Hannah Zurcher
Ming-Dao Chia
Julia Hammer



While some plant–pollinator relations are born of scarcity, competition or necessity, the stunning diversity of Australian alpine flora lends itself to rich fields of varied blooms. If there is any plant–pollinator selection happening in the Australian Alps, then it is likely due to insect colour preference. Insects often prefer flowers of specific colours, as visual cues provide guidance for resource distribution. Bees generally prefer yellow flowers, flies white flowers and beetles white flowers.

There are more white flowers (53.5 per cent), than yellow (21.3 per cent) in Kosciuszko National Park. Oxylobium ellipticum, the common shaggy-pea, is a yellow flower found near Charlotte Pass. Epacris paludosa, a star-shaped flower, is white and found in a range of alpine areas. Olearia phlogopappa, the dusty daisy-bush, blooms both purple and white and is found over much of Australia.

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