The pollen dispersal kernel and mating system of an insect-pollinated tropical palm, Oenocarpus bataua

  • Ottewell K
  • Grey E
  • Castillo F
 et al. 
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Pollen dispersal shapes the local genetic structure of plant populations and determines the opportunity for local selection and genetic drift, but has been well studied in few animal-pollinated plants in tropical rainforests. Here, we characterise pollen movement for an insect-pollinated Neotropical canopy palm, Oenocarpus bataua, and relate these data to adult mating system and population genetic structure. The study covers a 130-ha parcel in which all adult trees (n=185) were mapped and genotyped at 12 microsatellite loci, allowing us to positively identify the source tree for 90% of pollination events (n=287 of 318 events). Mating system analysis showed O. bataua was effectively outcrossed (t(m)=1.02) with little biparental inbreeding (t(m)-t(s)=-0.005) and an average of 5.4 effective pollen donors (N(ep)) per female. Dispersal distances were relatively large for an insect-pollinated species (mean=303 m, max=1263 m), and far exceeded nearest-neighbour distances. Dispersal kernel modelling indicated a thin-tailed Weibull distribution offered the best fit to the genetic data, which contrasts with the fat-tailed kernels typically reported for pollen dispersal in trees. Preliminary analyses suggest that our findings may be explained, at least in part, by a relatively diffuse spatial and temporal distribution of flowering trees. Comparison with previously reported estimates of seed movement for O. bataua suggests that pollen and seed dispersal distances may be similar. These findings add to the growing body of information on dispersal in insect-pollinated trees, but underscore the need for continued research on tropical systems in general, and palms in particular.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Arecaceae
  • Chocó rainforest
  • chapil palm
  • neighbourhood model
  • phenology
  • spatial genetic structure
  • weibull distribution

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  • K. Ottewell

  • E. Grey

  • F. Castillo

  • J. Karubian

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