International Journal of Tropical Insect Science

Review Article

African pollination studies: where are the gaps?

James Gordon Rodgera1, Kevin Balkwilla1 and Barbara Gemmilla2 c1

a1 CE Moss Herbarium, University of Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa

a2 Environment Liaison Centre International, PO Box 72461, Nairobi, Kenya


The literature on African pollination biology is reviewed. It is found that relatively little work has been done on pollination biology in Africa, and a very small proportion of pollination relationships has so far been studied. Much of the research which has been done is of an evolutionary nature. Very little work has been conducted at the community level and comparatively little applied work, either to agriculture or conservation, was encountered. Most research has been conducted in South Africa, in particular, from the Cape region, which is the only part of Africa for which a reasonably comprehensive body of work on pollination biology exists. In a number of instances results of African studies challenge conventional understanding of pollination biology. It is argued that as more work on pollination is done in Africa, more differences between African systems and the rest of the world, particularly the North temperate regions will be found and changes to the overall conceptualization of pollination systems in different ecosystems are likely to ensue. A more thorough understanding of pollination biology would also make an important contribution to food security and conservation of biodiversity on the continent. Scientists working in fields other than pollination biology, and amateurs, should be encouraged to contribute to the groundwork of African pollination biology by the documentation of pollination relationships.

(Accepted November 25 2003)


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