Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Plant–hummingbird interactions in the West Indies: floral specialisation gradients associated with environment and hummingbird size

Dalsgaard, B., Gonzalez, A., Olesen, J., Ollerton, J., Timmermann, A., Andersen, L. and Tossas, A. (2009) Plant–hummingbird interactions in the West Indies: floral specialisation gradients associated with environment and hummingbird size. Oecologia. 159(4), pp. 757-766. 0029-8549.

Item Type: Article
Abstract: Floral phenotype and pollination system of a plant may be influenced by the abiotic environment and the local pollinator assemblage. This was investigated in seven plant–hummingbird assemblages on the West Indian islands of Grenada, Dominica and Puerto Rico. We report all hummingbird and insect pollinators of 49 hummingbirdpollinated plant species, as well as six quantitative and semi-quantitative floral characters that determine visitor restriction, attraction and reward. Using nonmetric multidimensional scaling analysis, we show that hummingbirdpollinated plants in the West Indies separate in floral phenotypic space into two gradients—one associated with the abiotic environment and another with hummingbird size. Plants pollinated by large, long-billed hummingbirds had flowers with long corolla tube, large amounts of nectar and showy orange-red colouration. These attracted few or no insect species, whereas plants pollinated by small, shortbilled hummingbirds were frequently pollinated by insects, particularly lepidopterans. The separation of plants related to environmental factors showed that species in the wet and cold highlands produced large amounts of dilute nectar, possessed no or a weak odour, and were associated with few insects, particularly few hymenopterans, compared to plants in the dry and warm lowlands. The most specialised hummingbird-pollinated plants are found in the West Indian highlands where they are pollinated by mainly large, long-billed hummingbirds. At the other extreme, highly generalised plants growing in the dry and warm lowlands are pollinated by small, short-billed hummingbirds and numerous insect species. This illustrates that, even within the hummingbird-pollinated flora, pollination syndrome and the degree of specialisation may vary tremendously depending on pollinator morphology and environment
Uncontrolled Keywords: Floral phenotype insect pollinator; ornithophilous syndrome; plant–pollinator interaction; specialisation gradient
Subjects: Q Science > QK Botany > QK926 Pollination
Q Science > QK Botany > QK710 Plant physiology > QK830 Flowering
Q Science > QL Zoology > QL671 Birds > QL696 Hummingbirds
Q Science > QK Botany > QK900 Plant ecology
Creators: Dalsgaard, Bo, Gonzalez, Ana, Olesen, Jens, Ollerton, Jeff, Timmermann, Allan, Andersen, Laila and Tossas, Adrianne
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > School of Applied Sciences (to 2009) > Environmental Science (to 2009)
Date: 9 January 2009
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 757-766
Journal or Publication Title: Oecologia
Volume: 159
Number: 4
Language: English
ISSN: 0029-8549
Status: Published / Disseminated
Refereed: Yes

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