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Some years ago as a mature student, I studied Biology at the University of Aberdeen, which is one of Scotland's oldest universities. I never thought of myself as a particularly academic sort but its amazing what you can achieve if you just try! It wasn't easy


For my final year I wrote a thesis on 'fals'e food signalling in flowering plants and the impact on pollination success. If you're wondering what that's all about, in the simplest terms, it's the markings, physical features or scents that a flower might have that attract pollinators, the features that say 'Look at me!' but which do not actually offer the pollinator any food reward,  i. e. they are false signals that trick the pollinator into visiting and subsequently pollinating the plant.


Plant pollinator interactions are normally a form of mutualism, whereby the pollinator gets a food reward in the form of nectar or pollen and in return the plant is cross pollinated.


A false food signal can be spots on the petals that mimic pollen, as is the case in this Californian desert native, Phacelia campanularia  or glistening parts that look good to eat, as is the case in Parnassia palustris, which has glistening parts, but when the pollinator arrives, finds they are just an illusion or exaggeration of whats really on offer. There are many analogies in life!

To be honest this is a bit of a heavy read but it's a shame when all the work from a thesis is lost so I'm sharing it here before I lose it, just on the off chance anyone is interested.

Read the Thesis

food signals phacelia.jpg

One of the drawings of Phacelia campanularia that I made, showing the later female flowering phase, where the stigmas grows up taller than the anthers.

Below: microscope wor, showing the pollen load on the stigma.

Pollen load.jpg
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