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Oecologia. 2006 Feb;147(1):60-8. Epub 2005 Sep 27.

Lack of floral nectar reduces self-pollination in a fly-pollinated orchid.

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  • 1School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu Natal, Private Bag X01, Pietermaritzburg, ZA 3209, South Africa. jersa@centrum.cz

Abstract

One explanation for the widespread absence of floral nectar in many orchids is that it causes pollinators to visit fewer flowers on a plant, and thus reduces self-pollination. This, in turn, could increase fitness by reducing inbreeding depression in progeny and promoting pollen export. The few previous investigations of this hypothesis have all involved bee-pollinated orchids and some have given contradictory results. We studied the effects of adding artificial nectar (sucrose solution) to the spurs of a non-rewarding long-proboscid fly-pollinated orchid, Disa pulchra. Addition of nectar significantly increased the number of flowers probed by flies (2.6-fold), the time spent on a flower (5.4-fold), the number of pollinia removed per inflorescence (4.8-fold) and the proportion of removed pollen involved in self-pollination (3.5-fold). The level of self-pollination increased dramatically with the number of flowers probed by flies. Experimental self-pollination resulted in fruits with only half as many viable seeds as those arising from cross-pollination. Pollinators were more likely to fly long distances (>40 cm) when departing from non-rewarding inflorescences than when departing from rewarding ones. These findings provide support for the idea that floral deception serves to reduce pollinator-mediated self-pollination.

PMID:
16187105
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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