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Are pollination syndromes useful predictors of floral visitors in Tasmania?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 12:11 authored by Andrew HingstonAndrew Hingston, Peter McQuillanPeter McQuillan
Diurnal visitors to the flowers of many native plant species were identified in a wide range of Tasmanian sclerophyllous vegetation between September 1996 and April 1997. These foraging profiles were analysed to determine whether they were characteristic of various floral morphologies in predictable ways. It was found that although visitor profiles were sometimes consistent with classic pollination syndromes, these syndromes were unreliable predictors of floral visitors. Very few flowers were exclusively bird-pollinated, and none were strictly fly-, beetle-, wasp-, or butterfly-pollinated. The majority of flowering plants were unspecialized in their morphology, and consequently hosted a diverse array of visitors. In addition, visitor profiles to congeners with similar floral morphologies, and even to conspecifics, differed between habitats. Altitude was a major factor in determining visitors, with flies being the most abundant visitors above 700 m. However, congeners in several genera of Epacridaceae, as well as the genus Correa, which differed in floral morphology also differed in visitor profiles. Tubular flowers were associated with birds, while flowers with more accessible nectar were visited by insects. The only taxa exhibiting a bee-pollination syndrome that were largely visited by bees were the Fabaceae and Goodenia ovata Sm. Several species with purple or pink flowers were also predominantly visited by bees, but did not strictly conform to the melittophilous syndrome. In contrast, other flowers exhibiting an ostensibly mellitophilous syndrome hosted very few bees. Of these, species that occurred at high altitude were mainly visited by flies, while others received very few potential pollen vectors.


Publication title

Austral Ecology










School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Blackwell Science Asia

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Other environmental management not elsewhere classified

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