Journal of Tropical Ecology

Research Article

Insect visitation rates and foraging patterns differ in androdioecious and hermaphrodite-only populations of Laguncularia racemosa (Combretaceae) in Florida

Carol L. Landrya1 p1 and Beverly J. Rathckea12

a1 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

Abstract:

Insect-pollinated Laguncularia racemosa has a variable breeding system; some populations are androdioecious, with male and hermaphroditic plants, while others lack male plants. We observed the foraging behaviours of insects in three androdioecious and three hermaphrodite-only populations of L. racemosa in Florida. In each population, insect visitation rates were estimated from 30–108 timed intervals. We recorded the number of flowers visited by 144–224 insects during foraging bouts made to 15–40 male and hermaphroditic plants. Male plants in androdioecious populations had significantly more visitors than hermaphroditic plants, increasing the number of vectors carrying pollen from male plants. Further, many insects visited few flowers during foraging bouts, which should increase outcrossing frequency. According to mathematical models, male plants benefit from these combined factors. Plants in hermaphrodite-only populations had significantly more visitors than hermaphroditic plants in androdioecious populations. Proportionately more insects visited many flowers during foraging bouts in hermaphrodite-only versus androdioecious populations. The increased likelihood of geitonogamous self-pollination could help explain the lack of male plants in hermaphrodite-only populations. Differences in pollinator assemblages and the relative abundances of several species were responsible for differences in foraging behaviours: Apis mellifera, Bombus sp., Melissodes sp., Xylocopa sp., Euodynerus sp. and a calliphorid species.

(Accepted April 10 2012)

Correspondence:

p1 Current address: Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, Mansfield, OH 44906 USA. Email: landry.26@osu.edu

Footnotes

2 Deceased.