University Of Tasmania

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Are there pollination syndromes in the Australian epacrids (Ericaceae: Styphelioideae)? A novel statistical method to identify key floral traits per syndrome

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 22:11 authored by Karen JohnsonKaren Johnson

Background and Aims: Convergent floral traits hypothesized as attracting particular pollinators are known as pollination syndromes. Floral diversity suggests that the Australian epacrid flora may be adapted to pollinator type. Currently there are empirical data on the pollination systems for 87 species (approx. 15 % of Australian epacrids). This provides an opportunity to test for pollination syndromes and their important morphological traits in an iconic element of the Australian flora.

Methods: Data on epacrid-pollinator relationships were obtained from published literature and field observation. A multivariate approach was used to test whether epacrid floral attributes related to pollinator profiles. Statistical classification was then used to rank floral attributes according to their predictive value. Data sets excluding mixed pollination systems were used to test the predictive power of statistical classification to identify pollination models.

Key Results: Floral attributes are correlated with bird, fly and bee pollination. Using floral attributes identified as correlating with pollinator type, bird pollination is classified with 86 % accuracy, red flowers being the most important predictor. Fly and bee pollination are classified with 78 and 69 % accuracy, but have a lack of individually important floral predictors. Excluding mixed pollination systems improved the accuracy of the prediction of both bee and fly pollination systems.

Conclusions: Although most epacrids have generalized pollination systems, a correlation between bird pollination and red, long-tubed epacrids is found. Statistical classification highlights the relative importance of each floral attribute in relation to pollinator type and proves useful in classifying epacrids to bird, fly and bee pollination systems.


Publication title

Annals of Botany








School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Oxford University Press

Place of publication

Great Clarendon St, Oxford, England, Ox2 6Dp

Rights statement

Copyright 2013 the authors

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity; Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences