Ross School - Senior Project 2008-09

Student: Laura Camargo

Mentor: Hugh McGuinness


Title: See Like A Bee

Description: For my senior project, I wrote a paper in which I discuss the concept of pollination syndromes and the controversy surrounding it. Within that, I also created my own hypothesis, which is that all diurnal insects should be able to perceive UV reflectance on flowers. Pollination syndromes are characteristics of flowers that correspond to certain pollinators. For example, the syndrome for a moth-pollinated flower would be a white flower that emits a fruity scent at night and has nocturnal anthesis. Since moths are nocturnal insects, they would not be able to see UV reflection.


Final Paper


The original idea for my project was a bit different then the final outcome of it. At first, I planned to have both a paper and a photo essay demonstrating UV images of flowers. The images would virtually prove my hypothesis that only flowers pollinated by diurnal insects would have UV patterns. The outside consultant that I chose was Bjorn Rorslett, who is a professional photographer that specializes in UV photography. I was a beginner in this area of photography that has not been around for long. Luckily, Mr. Rorslett was very generous and advised me into how to go about taking UV images. He recommended equipment and the software that I should use in order to digitally maneuver the images to pick up UV reflectance. I had many technical difficulties with the photos, especially because I was not familiar with the equipment or the technique. I acquired a UV-pass lens, which essentially blocks out visible light, and only lets UV light pass. Using this lens, I formulated different techniques in order to get a UV image. At first, I tried using it in the field. Due to wind and little light exposure, no image was captured. I then built a box out of black foam-core that could be used as a case where I would place the flower and then photograph it. Using a mercury vapor bulb (which is very powerful and gives off a lot of UV light), the foam-core box would both block out visible light and keep in the UV light. It also acted as a black backdrop. I went through many trials of photo shoots, failing every time. I barely got an image out of most of the photo shoots, and when I did, I could not tell if it was an authentic UV image, or just something I conjured up on Adobe Photoshop. Although the photography portion of my project failed, I still needed some sort of proof that I could use to prove my hypothesis. With the permission of my outside consultant, I used his UV images of flowers in my paper to prove the hypothesis. Conducting this project taught me a lot about responsibility and sticking with something no matter how many times you fail. I definitely learned a lot about evolutionary biology, botany, and entomology through the extensive research I did in order to write the paper. In the future, I plan to continue to study biology and other science related topics.

Works Cited

Gullan, P. J., and P. S. Cranston. 2000. The Insects An Outline of Entomology. Malden: Blackwell Science. Pg 280-285.

Dudareva, N. A. 2006. Biology of floral scent. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis. Pg 148-180

Dyer, Adrian G. 2004. The evolution of flower signals to attract pollinators. Chemistry in Australia. Pg. 4-6

Endress, Peter K. 1994. Diversity and Evolutionary Biology of Tropical Flowers. New York: Cambridge UP. Pg. 124

Fenster, Charles B., W.S. Armbruster, P. Wilson, M.R. Dudash & J.D. Thomson. 2004. Pollination Syndromes and Floral Specialization. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics. 35: 375-403

Glover, Beverly. 2007. Understanding Flowers and Flowering An Intergrated Approach. New York: Oxford UP, USA. Pg 180-200.

Huffaker, Carl B., and Andrew P. Gutierrez. 1999. Ecological entomology. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley. 17: 555-556

Kunz, Thomas H., and Brock M. Fenton. 2006. Bat Ecology. New York: University Of Chicago P. Pg 382-383

Waser, Nikolas M., and Jeff Ollerton. 2006. Plant-pollinator interactions from specialization to generalization. Chicago: University of Chicago P. 3: 47-59

Raven, Peter H. 1972. Why Are Bird-visited Flowers Predominantly Red? Evolution. 26: 674

Ramirez, Nelson. 2003. Floral Specialization and Pollination: a quantitative analysis and comparison of the Leppik and Faegri and Van der Pijl Classification systems.

Scoble, Malcolm J. 1995. The Lepidoptera Form, Function and Diversity. New York: Oxford UP, USA. Pg 177

Van Der Pijl, Leendert. 1966. Orchid Flowers: Their Pollination and Evolution. Miami: Univ of Miami Pr.

Van der Cingel, Nelis A. 2001. Atlas of orchid pollination America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema. Pg 8-11

Community Member (Details)

Bjorn Rorslett is a Swedish nature photographer who specializes in IR/UV photography. He photographed an extended photo essay using UV photography exploring UV patterns on flowers.