Differential pollen placement increases pollination efficiency

Plant species that share pollinators are potentially subject to non-adaptive interspecific pollen transfer, resulting in reduced reproductive success. Mechanisms that increase pollination efficiency between conspecific individuals are therefore highly beneficial.
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Eonycteris spelaea, a common nectar bat and important pollinator in Thailand.
Eonycteris spelaea, a common nectar bat and important pollinator in Thailand. Image from
Stewart and Dudash (2015).

Plant species that share pollinators are potentially subject to non-adaptive interspecific pollen transfer, resulting in reduced reproductive success. Mechanisms that increase pollination efficiency between conspecific individuals are therefore highly beneficial. Many nocturnally flowering plant species in Thailand are pollinated by the nectar bat Eonycteris spelaea (Pteropodidae).

Stewart and Dudash examined pollen transfer by E. spelaea, using different combinations of conspecific and heterospecific flowers in a flight cage. The four bat-pollinated flower species placed pollen on different areas of the bat’s body, and bats transferred significantly more pollen between conspecific than heterospecific flowers. Thus, in the Old World tropics, differential pollen placement is a mechanism that reduces competition for pollination among night-blooming plant species sharing a common pollinator.

Reference

Stewart, A. B., & Dudash, M. R. (2015). Differential pollen placement on an Old World nectar bat increases pollination efficiency. Annals of Botany, 117(1), 145–152. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcv163


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