Spatial flower parameters and insect spatial vision

A. Dafni, M. Lehrer, P. G. Kevan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present article reviews recent and older literature on the spatial parameters that flowers display, as well as on the capacities of anthophilous insects to perceive and use these parameters for optimizing their foraging success. Although co-evolution of plants and pollinators has frequently been discussed with respect to floral colours and insect colour vision, it has rarely been assessed with respect to insect spatial vision and spatial floral cues, such as shape, pattern, size, contrast, symmetry, spatial frequency, contour density and orientation of contours. This review is an attempt to fill this gap. From experimental findings and observations on both flowers and insects, we arrive at the conclusion that all of the spatial and spatio-temporal parameters that flowers offer are relevant to the foraging task and are tuned to the insect's visual capacities and visually guided behaviour. We try, in addition, to indicate that temporal cues are closely related to spatial cues, and must therefore be included when flower-pollinator interactions are examined. We include results that show that colour vision and spatial vision have diverged over the course of evolution, particularly regarding the processing of spatio-temporal information, but that colour vision plays a role in the processing of spatial cues that are independent of temporal parameters. By presenting this review we hope to contribute to closer collaboration among scientists working in the vast fields of botany, ecology, evolution, ethology and sensory physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-282
Number of pages44
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1997


  • Co-evolution
  • Floral spatial parameters
  • Flower-pollinator interactions
  • Insect spatial vision
  • Visually guided behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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