University Of Tasmania
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The swift parrot, Lathamus discolor (Psittacidae), social bees (Apidae) and native insects as pollinators of Eucalyptus globulus ssp. globulus (Myrtaceae)

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 15:09 authored by Andrew HingstonAndrew Hingston, Bradley PottsBradley Potts, Peter McQuillanPeter McQuillan
It has been argued that the production of sufficient nectar to attract bird pollinators would evolve if the fitness benefits accruing from pollination services by birds, compared with insects, outweighed the cost of increased allocation of photosynthate to nectar. This hypothesis implies that the pollination services provided by birds must be considerably better than those provided by insects with which the plant has evolved. Consistent with this, we found that the endangered native swift parrot Lathamus discolor (Shaw) was a very effective pollinator of the native tree Eucalyptus globulus Labill. in Tasmania, facilitating an average of 76% of the maximum possible seed set for open-pollinated flowers in just one visit to a flower, whereas single flower visits by native insects did not facilitate any seed production. Flowers visited once by either species of introduced social bees, the honeybee Apis mellifera L. or the bumblebee Bombus terrestris (L.), produced less than 7% of the maximum possible seed set for open-pollinated flowers. Hence, easily managed social bees appear to be poor substitutes for bird pollinators in commercial seed orchards of this tree. We propose three possible reasons why this largely bird-pollinated tree has not evolved characters that deter insects from removing nectar.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Botany








School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Native forests

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    University Of Tasmania