Mani Shrestha from the Monash School of Biological Sciences, Australia, who led the study, said bird-pollinated flowers may have evolved red signals to be inconspicuous to some insects that were poor pollinators while enticing bird pollinators.
He collected spectral data from more than 200 flowering plants and identified the pollinators as birds or insects. Spectral data precisely describes a colour by specifying the amount of each wavelength that the sample reflects, the journal New Phytologist reports.
Then with Martin Burd, associate professor at the Monash School, he did phylogenetic analyses (study of evolutionary relationships among groups of organisms) to identify how the flowers evolved spectral signatures, according to a Monash and Royal Melbourne statement.
Adrian Dyer, associate professor of photography at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology's School of Media and Communication, who with Burd supervised Shrestha's Ph.D dissertation, said previous studies have shown that flower colour evolved to attract bees as pollinators.