Photo of

former PhD Student

Dr. Sarah Papiorek

Dr. Sarah Papiorek

Research interests

  • Plant-insect interactions
  • Colour vision systems of bees and flower visiting birds
  • Flower colour
  • UV-photography
  • Pollination biology
  • Insect behavior


  • Since 2012 Fellow of the interdisciplinary Graduate School E-Norm (Evolutionary Networks: Organisms, Reactions, Molecules) Düsseldorf: “Behavioral and ecological dynamics in competitive pollination networks”  

  • from 2009 PhD student at the Institute of Sensory Ecology, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 2008 – 2009 Diploma thesis at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany, “Sensory Exclusion of flower visitors by flower colours”
  • 2004 – 2008 studies in biology at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 1984 born in Duisburg, Germany


Research project

Sensory exclusion of non-pollinating flower visitors

Whenever plants suffer from being robbed or thieved by flower visitors which do not contribute to the pollination of these plant species, they should exclude these visitors. Bird-pollinated plants suffer from nectar robbing or nectar thieving by non-pollinating agents, especially large bees.

To prevent reduced reproductive success, flowers pollinated by birds exhibit typical traits summarized as the “ornithophily-syndrome”, including characters not only adapted to their pollen vector, but also to exclude bees as visitors of these flowers.

My research focuses on the hypothesis of sensory exclusion via flower colours and their underlying mechanisms.  Flowers adapted to the pollination by birds display flower colours, which are of less spectral purity, an important colour parameter for foraging bees. The underlying colour preference in bees may provide hummingbirds with an ecological private niche consisting of colours which are non-attractive for bees.



  • Papiorek S, Junker RR, Alves-dos-Santos I, Melo GAR, Amaral-Neto LP, Sazima M, Wolowski M, Freitas L, Lunau K (2015) Bees, birds and yellow flowers: Pollinator-dependent convergent evolution of UV-patterns. Plant Biology (in press)
  • Papiorek S, Junker RR, Lunau K (2014) Gloss, colour and grip: Multifunctional epidermal cell shapes in bee- and bird-pollinated flowers. PLoS ONE 9(11): e112013.
  • Papiorek, S., Rohde, K., Lunau, K. (2013) Bees` subtle colour preferences: How bees respond to small changes in pigment concentration. Naturwissenschaften 100: 633-643.
  • Rohde, K., Papiorek, S., Lunau, K. (2013) Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) and honeybees (Apis mellifera) prefer similar colours of higher spectral purity over trained colours. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 199: 197–210.
  • Lunau K, Papiorek S, Eltz T, Sazima M (2011) Avoidance of achromatic colours by bees provides a private niche for hummingbirds. Journal of Experimental Biology 214: 1607-1612.


Conference contributions

  • Papiorek S, Junker R, Lunau K (2012) Underlying mechanisms of sensory exclusion of bees by flowers adapted to the pollination by birds: The role of colour, epidermal cell shape and gloss. Talk at the 26th annual meeting of the Scandinavian Association of Pollination Ecology (SCAPE) in Skjærhalden, Norway
  • Papiorek S, Junker R, Sazima M, Eltz T, Lunau K (2012) The role of colour, gloss and epidermal cell shape for sensory exclusion of bees by flowers adapted to the pollination by birds. Talk at the 21st International Symposium of the German Botanical Society (DBG) in Mainz, Germany
  • Papiorek S, Mehlich N, Lunau K (2012) Floral Glamour: Correlation between gloss and epidermal cell shape in bee- and bird-pollinated flowers. Poster at the 59th  Jahrestagung der AG der Institute für Bienenforschung in Bonn, Germany
  • Papiorek S, Lunau K (2011) The sensory exclusion of non-pollinating bees in ornithophilous plant species and their ecological implications. Talk at the 25th annual meeting of the Scandinavian Association of Pollination Ecology (SCAPE) in Billund, Dänemark
  • Papiorek S, Lunau K (2011) Interactions between neotropical bees, flowering plants and hummingbirds: sensory exclusion of bees as nectar robbers of neotropical plants. Talk at the Entomologentagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für allgemeine und angewandte Entomologie (DGaaE) in Berlin, Germany                                                 
  • Papiorek S, Lunau K (2009) Private channel for hummingbirds? Poster at the 102nd Jahrestagung der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft (DZG ) in Regensburg, Germany
  • Papiorek S, Lunau K (2009) Private channel for hummingbirds? Talk at the Biofōrum – Palestras em Ecologia in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
Verantwortlich für den Inhalt: E-Mail sendenProf. Dr. Klaus Lunau