Consequences of pollinator availability and effectiveness for pollen transfer in a gynodioecious seed crop system




Apis mellifera, Brassica napus, hybrid seed canola, oilseed rape, Megachile rotundata, pollen deposition


Pollinator availability and effectiveness are important considerations in plant systems that depend on insect transfer of pollen. In mixed-flower systems (such as dioecious or gynodioecious systems), pollinators may distinguish between morphs, a behaviour which could have negative implications if it leads to reduced cross-pollination. We examined pollinator visitation, response, and effectiveness in hybrid canola seed production, a gynodioecious crop, to understand how pollinator behaviour contributes to cross-pollination between ‘male’ (hermaphroditic) and ‘female’ (male-sterile) morphs. The pollinator types found in these fields differ in visitation rate, size, and pollen load, factors that may affect pollen transfer between plants. The willingness of pollinators to move between male and female flowers can also affect pollen deposition. We used an interview bouquet to present unvisited female inflorescences to different pollinator types visiting male and female flowers to understand behavioural responses to floral morphs and the factors that contribute to better pollination effectiveness. Managed pollinators (honey and leafcutter bees) were far more abundant than wild pollinators in this system. Bees foraging on male flowers were less likely to accept a proffered female flower than those foraging on female flowers. Pollen deposition on stigmas was influenced by pollinator type (female leafcutter bees were the most effective) and increased with time spent on a flower. Pollinators transferring from a male flower to a female flower deposited more pollen than those that originated on female flowers, emphasizing the importance of transfer between male and female morphs. Surprisingly, pollinators carrying more pollen transferred less pollen to recipient stigmas.

Author Biographies

Riley Waytes, LGL Limited

Terrestrial Ecologist

LGL Limited

Sidney, British Columbia V8L 3Y8



Dr. Ralph V. Cartar, University of Calgary

Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Calgary
2500 University Dr. NW
Calgary AB T2N 1N4


Shelley Hoover, University of Lethbridge

Research Associate  University of Lethbridge 4401 University Dr W Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4 Canada    

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How to Cite

Waytes, R., Cartar, R., & Hoover, S. (2022). Consequences of pollinator availability and effectiveness for pollen transfer in a gynodioecious seed crop system. Journal of Pollination Ecology, 32, 154–169.




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