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Title: So many visitors and so few pollinators: variation in insect frequency and effectiveness governs the reproductive success of an endemic milkwort
Authors: Castro, Sílvia 
Loureiro, J. 
Ferrero, Victoria 
Silveira, Paulo 
Navarro, Luis 
Keywords: Legitimate visitors; Nectar robbing; Plant–animal interactions; Pollination effectiveness; Polygala vayredae; Polygalaceae
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Springer Science
Serial title, monograph or event: Plant Ecology
Volume: 214
Issue: 10
Abstract: Plant–pollinator interactions are one of the most important and variable mutualisms having major implications for plant fitness. The present study evaluates the interactions between an endemic milkwort, Polygala vayredae, and its floral visitors by studying the temporal variability, foraging behaviour and effectiveness of floral visitors in three populations during three consecutive years. The flowers were visited by a diverse array of insects, totalling 24 different species. However, only four species were effective pollinators, depositing pollen on stigmas after one visit, while the remaining species behaved as nectar robbers, secondary nectar robbers or nectar thieves and were completely ineffective for pollination. Among the effective pollinators, two groups with distinct foraging behaviours were observed: the nectar collecting long-tongued bees Bombus pascuorum and Anthophora sp. and the pollen collectors Eucera longicornis and Halictus sp. No significant differences were observed among pollinators in their efficiency in pollen deposition on stigmas, but significant differences were observed in the foraging behaviour between nectarivorous and pollen collectors. Variation in the abundance and assemblage of floral visitors was observed at the temporal scale and among populations, with the effective pollinators being generally scarce. Consequently, the reproductive outcome in this species was low and significantly variable among populations and years. The results highlight the importance of studying floral visitor effectiveness when determining pollinator assemblages.
DOI: 10.1007/s11258-013-0247-1
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:FCTUC Ciências da Vida - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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