Flowers of ruderal species are numerous but small, short and low‐rewarding - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Oikos Year : 2023

Flowers of ruderal species are numerous but small, short and low‐rewarding

Aurélie Metay
Antoine Gardarin


Weed species are ecological models that recently received considerable attention due to their particular strategies linked to their ruderal-competitive traits. They are known to have the potential to provide additional floral resources for insects in flower-poor agroecosystems. However, their floral traits are much more scarcely studied than those of plants found in other habitats, such as grasslands. The aim of this study was to describe the floral phenotype of weeds and to determine to what extent their floral traits match their ecological strategies as described based on leaf traits. We cultivated 19 forb weeds from perennial agroecosystems, previously identified in Mediterranean fields, in a greenhouse for seven months and collected data on 12 floral and five leaf traits. We tested whether these traits covaried and exhibited an ecological strategy at the phenotype scale. We found that in matters of flower production, weed species face a tradeoff: either numerous small, low-stature flowers with small quantities of pollen and nectar, or few, large, higher-held flowers with more pollen and nectar. The floral traits were found to reflect Grime's CSR strategies: the weed species producing fewer but costlier flowers belonged to C-strategy species, whereas those producing more but less costly flowers belonged to species dominated by an R strategy. These findings indicate that the potential of weeds as floral resources for insects is related to their ecological strategies, which are known to be affected by agricultural practices that filter species composition. This implies that, as for the provision of other ecosystem services, weed communities can be managed to select species with floral traits matching the requirements of flower-visiting insects like pollinators or parasitoid wasps.

Dates and versions

hal-04208395 , version 1 (15-09-2023)



Léa Genty, Elena Kazakou, Aurélie Metay, Mathilde Baude, Antoine Gardarin, et al.. Flowers of ruderal species are numerous but small, short and low‐rewarding. Oikos, In press, pp.e10219. ⟨10.1111/oik.10219⟩. ⟨hal-04208395⟩
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