Dr Michael Whitehead 'The Empty Promises and Fake Advertisments of Orchid Pollination'

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Thursday, 13 June 2013 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm

Most flowering plants employ animals to carry out the essential service of pollination. The majority of these plants persuade their pollinators through rewards such as nectar or pollen, the presence of which is signalled through bright petals and sweet scents. There are, however, many plant species whose false advertisements draw pollinators to rewardless flowers. Chief among them are the orchids who masterfully deceive pollinators through false promises of sex and food. Michael will discuss his research on pollination in rewardless flowers, with a special focus on the sexually deceptive orchids of Eastern Australia.

Michael Whitehead was awarded his PhD in 2012 from the ANU for a study on pollination in east Australian sexually deceptive orchids. He now alternates between two postdoctoral positions: a research fellowship with the ANU and Kings Park in which he studies mycorrhizal interactions in Spider Orchids, and postdoctoral scholar at University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa where he researches the behavioural ecology of long-tongue fly pollinated food deceptive orchids.