Virtual Issue: Charismatic Orchids

Edited by Anthony Davy & David Gibson
October 2015

Ever since the famous studies of their pollination by Darwin, orchids have had an enduring fascination for evolutionary biologists and ecologists. We share a widespread public appreciation of their often beautiful flowers and the mystique associated with rarity in such a large and diverse family. Their highly co-evolved interactions with both animal pollinators and fungi, however, have provided rich opportunities for ecological research. Contributions to the Journal of Ecology in recent years, including those to the Biological Flora of the British Isles series, have amply reflected the important advances in our understanding of these relationships and their significance for orchid population biology.

To highlight and celebrate this achievement, we have compiled a Virtual Issue of 32 papers published in the Journal of Ecology that focus on the ecology of terrestrial orchids. The largest single component comes from the Biological Flora of the British Isles. This series of autecological accounts has been running since 1941 and currently extends to 280 articles. The 12 accounts presented here include arguably the rarest British species of all (Epipogium aphyllum) and some of the most common orchids (e.g. Neottia ovata). The former, as a non-photosynthetic mycotroph, appears above ground only very erratically, as ghostly flowering spikes in the deep gloom of woodland. Yet this is the extreme of a continuum, and the capacity of many terrestrial orchids to remain effectively dormant below ground as mycotrophic tubers for one, or more, years has helped until recently to obscure their demography. Demographic studies, including those examining the influence of weather and climate on dormancy, represent another theme of the papers presented in this Virtual Issue. Nearly all terrestrial orchids have mycorrhizal associations that are distinctive to the Orchidaceae; indeed the microscopically immature seeds would never be able to emerge above ground without it. Hence this has been another rich vein for research that is represented by a group of papers here. The production of seeds in orchids is, in general, found to be pollen-limited, which appears to be something of a paradox in the context of the highly evolved relationships that many have with pollinating insects. Consequently, the final group of papers deals with reproductive biology, including pollination, and the possible impacts of a changing climate on its phenology.

Orchids represent the largest family of flowering plants and one of the earliest to evolve. This compilation, focusing on their complex life styles, thus offers many exciting insights into current ideas and research in ecology.

If you are interested in submitting an account for the Biological Flora series, whether on an orchid or another British species, please contact Tony Davy directly at Your best work on orchid ecology is of course also always welcome as a regular submission to Journal of Ecology. We hope you enjoy reading the papers we have compiled for you!

Tony Davy & David Gibson

Biological Flora of the British Isles

Biological Flora of the British Isles: Ophrys sphegodes
Hans Jacquemyn and Michael J. Hutchings

Biological Flora of the British Isles: Neottia ovata
Milan Kotilínek, Tamara Těšitelová and Jana Jersáková

Biological Flora of the British Isles: Epipactis palustris
Hans Jacquemyn, Rein Brys and Michael J. Hutchings

Biological Flora of the British Isles: Gymnadenia conopsea s.l.
Tine Meekers, Michael J. Hutchings, Olivier Honnay and Hans Jacquemyn

Biological flora of the British Isles: Orchis anthropophora (L.) All. (Aceras anthropophorum (L.) W.T. Aiton)
Hans Jacquemyn, Rein Brys and Michael J. Hutchings

Biological Flora of the British Isles: Pseudorchis albida (L.) Á. & D. Löve
Jana Jersáková, Tamara Malinová, Kateřina Jeřábková and Stefan Dötterl

Biological Flora of the British Isles: Epipogium aphyllum Sw.
Lin Taylor and David L. Roberts

Biological Flora of the British Isles: Spiranthes spiralis (L.) Chevall.
Hans Jacquemyn and Michael J. Hutchings

Biological Flora of the British Isles: Orchis mascula (L.) L.
Hans Jacquemyn, Rein Brys, Olivier Honnay and Michael J. Hutchings

Orchis ustulata L.
Kadri Tali, Michael J. Y. Foley and Tiiu Kull

Cypripedium calceolus L.
Tiiu Kull

Himantoglossum hircinum (L.) Sprengel
P. D. Carey and L. Farrell

Demographic Studies

Life history evolution under climate change and its influence on the population dynamics of a long-lived plant
Jennifer L. Williams, Hans Jacquemyn, Brad M. Ochocki, Rein Brys and Tom E. X. Miller

Probabilistic and spatially variable niches inferred from demography
Jeffrey M. Diez, Itamar Giladi, Robert Warren and H. Ronald Pulliam

Validation of biological collections as a source of phenological data for use in climate change studies: a case study with the orchid Ophrys sphegodes
Karen M. Robbirt, Anthony J. Davy, Michael J. Hutchings and David L. Roberts

The population biology of the early spider orchid Ophrys sphegodes Mill. III. Demography over three decades
Michael J. Hutchings

Multigenerational analysis of spatial structure in the terrestrial, food-deceptive orchid Orchis mascula
Hans Jacquemyn, Thorsten Wiegand, Katrien Vandepitte, Rein Brys, Isabel Roldán-Ruiz and Olivier Honnay

Dormancy is associated with decreased adult survival in the burnt orchid, Neotinea ustulata
Richard P. Shefferson and Kadri Tali

Population viability analysis of Cypripedium calceolus in a protected area: longevity, stability and persistence
Florence Nicole, Emilia Brzosko and Irene Till-Bottraud

Demographic analysis of dormancy and survival in the terrestrial orchid Cypripedium reginae
Marc Kéry and Katharine B. Gregg

Effects of life-state on detectability in a demographic study of the terrestrial orchid Cleistes bifaria
Marc Kéry and Katharine B. Gregg
Detection of delayed density dependence in an orchid population
M. P. Gillman and M. Dodd

Mycorrhizal Associations

Photosynthesis in perennial mixotrophic Epipactis spp. (Orchidaceae) contributes more to shoot and fruit biomass than to hypogeous survival
Cédric Gonneau, Jana Jersáková, Eloïse de Tredern, Irène Till-Bottraud, Kimmo Saarinen, Mathieu Sauve, Mélanie Roy, Tomáš Hájek and Marc-André Selosse

Spatial variation in below-ground seed germination and divergent mycorrhizal associations correlate with spatial segregation of three co-occurring orchid species
Hans Jacquemyn, Rein Brys, Bart Lievens and Thorsten Wiegand

Do mycorrhizal symbioses cause rarity in orchids?
Ryan D. Phillips, Matthew D. Barrett, Kingsley W. Dixon and Stephen D. Hopper

Hierarchical patterns of symbiotic orchid germination linked to adult proximity and environmental gradients
Jeffrey M. Diez

Reproductive Ecology

Nonlinear costs of reproduction in a long-lived plant
Nina Sletvold and Jon Ågren

Landscape scale variation in nectar amino acid and sugar composition in a Lepidoptera pollinated orchid species and its relation with fruit set
Pieter Gijbels, Wim Van den Ende and Olivier Honnay

Convergent specialization – the sharing of pollinators by sympatric genera of sexually deceptive orchids
Ryan D. Phillips, Tingbao Xu, Michael F. Hutchinson, Kingsley W. Dixon and Rod Peakall

Pollination mode predicts phenological response to climate change in terrestrial orchids: a case study from central Europe
Attila Molnár V, Jácint Tökölyi, Zsolt Végvári, Gábor Sramkó, József Sulyok and Zoltán Barta

Size-dependent flowering and costs of reproduction affect population dynamics in a tuberous perennial woodland orchid
Hans Jacquemyn, Rein Brys and Eelke Jongejans

Costs and benefits of fruiting to future reproduction in two dormancy-prone orchids
Richard P. Shefferson and Ellen L. Simms  





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