Inflorescence arrangement and nursery pollinator occupancy

Nursery pollination systems are excellent biological models to study how obligated plant-insect mutualisms function and have evolved. Jácome-Flores et al. investigated whether and how the spatial distribution, sex, and flowering synchrony of Chamaerops humilis (Arecaceae) relates to host occupancy by the larvae of its pollinator, the palm flower weevil, Derelomus chamaeropsis (Coleoptera).

Image of Derelomus chamaeropsis adult on male inflorescence.
Image of Derelomus chamaeropsis adult on male inflorescence. Photo: Luis Oscar Aguado

Interestingly, the remarkable dispersal ability of D. chamaeropsis rather than the host plant spatial distribution (highly aggregated) was the primary determinant of pollinator occupancy. Jácome-Flores et al. also reveal new costs and benefits of such interaction, where flowering synchrony and a high inflorescence number appeared to reduce the costs inflicted by the herbivorous pollinator larvae.

Further reading

Jácome-Flores, M. E., Delibes, M., Wiegand, T., & Fedriani, J. M. (2018). Spatio-temporal arrangement of Chamaerops humilis inflorescences and occupancy patterns by its nursery pollinator, Derelomus chamaeropsis. Annals of Botany, 121(3), 471–482.