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Bird pollination of the climbing heath Prionotes Cerinthoides (Ericaceae)


Johnson, K and McQuillan, PB and Kirkpatrick, JB, Bird pollination of the climbing heath Prionotes Cerinthoides (Ericaceae), International Journal of Plant Sciences, 171, (2) pp. 147-157. ISSN 1058-5893 (2010) [Refereed Article]

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© 2010 by The University of Chicago

DOI: doi:10.1086/648990


Tubular red and pink flowers often indicate bird pollination. Prionotes cerinthoides, a climbing shrub of the temperate rainforest in Tasmania (Australia) and one of only two members of the most primitive clade of the subfamily Styphelioideae (Ericaceae), has such flowers. We tested the hypothesis that P. cerinthoides is bird pollinated using breeding system experiments, observations of flower visitors, and invertebrate trapping. Flowering phenology, nectar availability, and flower damage were also recorded. Prionotes cerinthoides produced little viable seed in the absence of a pollinator but selfed readily when pollination was facilitated. It appears that P. cerinthoides depends largely on the pollination services of a single native bird species, the eastern spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris). The only other flower visitor observed to contact anthers and stigma was the introduced bumblebee (Bombus terrestris). The crescent honeyeater (Phylidonyris pyrrhoptera), the introduced honeybee (Apis mellifera), and the bumblebee were nectar robbers. Keywords: Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris, bird pollination, Epacridaceae, Meliphagidae, nectar robber, selfcompatible. Online enhancement: appendix table. Introduction An understanding of pollination ecology and breeding systems is critical in the conservation management of vascular plant species (Buchmann and Nabham 1996; Koptur 2006; Kwak and Bekker 2006). It has been suggested that particular morphological features of flowers are associated with particular pollination systems (Faegri and van der Pijl 1979), although the correspondence can be unreliable (Hingston and McQuillan 2000; Robertson et al. 2005). Red and pink tubular flowers have been thought to be indicative of bird pollination (Faegri and van der Pijl 1979). There are many data to support this proposition, but the occasional exception exists. For example, in a temperate rainforest in southern Chile, one hummingbird, Sephanoides sephanoides Molina, was recor ded as the main visitor to 14 red- or pink-flowered plants spanning a wide range of life-forms, including vines, epiphytes, hemiparasites, shrubs, and trees (Armesto et al. 1996), while the South American scarlet-red, long-tubular-flowered Ourisia poeppigii Benth., despite its ornithophilous phenotype, is highly self-compatible and strongly autogamous (Arroyo and Penaloza 1990). The morphological and phenological features of flowers are thought to impose constraints on the modes of pollination (Lloyd and Schoen 1992). Many epacrids have both protandry and well-separated anthers and stigmas (Keighery 1996). The unusual climbing heath, Prionotes cerinthoides (Labill.) R.Br., is endemic to temperate rainforest, subalpine, and alpine plant communities

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:bird pollination, Epacridaceae, Meliphagidae, nectar robber, biodiversity
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Johnson, K (Dr Karen Johnson)
UTAS Author:McQuillan, PB (Mr Peter McQuillan)
UTAS Author:Kirkpatrick, JB (Professor James Kirkpatrick)
ID Code:62738
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2010-03-19
Last Modified:2021-03-22
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