Pollinator Assemblages and Visitation Rates for 11 Species of Neotropical Costus (Costaceae)

  • Kay K
  • Schemske D
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Most plant species in tropical forests are pollinated by animals, and yet the diversity and specificity of pollinator assemblages are poorly documented. Here, we investigated pollinator relationships for 11 species of understory herbs in the genus Costus, with the goal of documenting visitation rates and pollinator assemblages among a variety of habitats. For a subset of species, we documented pollinator visitation for multiple years and/or multiple sites to examine temporal and spatial variation in pollinator relationships. Furthermore, we examined the extent to which specialization in pollination systems can contribute to reproductive isolation for sympatric species. Each species was primarily pollinated by either euglossine bees or hummingbirds. Total visitation rates were generally low, averaging 3.2 visits per flower per hour for bee-pollinated species and 0.5 visits per flower per hour for hummingbird-pollinated species. All of the higher elevation species studied were hummingbird-pollinated, while low elevation species were pollinated either by euglossine bees or hummingbirds. Spatial and temporal variation in visitation rates and pollinator identities was minimal. Pollinator specificity was found to contribute strongly to reproductive isolation for the 11 pairwise combinations of sympatric species differing in pollination syndrome, in some cases functioning as a complete barrier to potential pollen flow.

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  • Kathleen M. Kay

  • Douglas W. Schemske

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