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Advanced (Constant) Insect Pollination Mechanisms: Pattern of Evolution and Implications Vis-a-Vis Angiosperm Diversity

William L. Crepet
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Vol. 71, No. 2, Historical Perspectives of Angiosperm Evolution (1984), pp. 607-630
DOI: 10.2307/2399041
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2399041
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Advanced (Constant) Insect Pollination Mechanisms: Pattern of Evolution and Implications Vis-a-Vis Angiosperm Diversity
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Abstract

The functional/phylogenetic relationship between the angiosperm flower and insects, combined with the correlation between insect pollination and many of the most diverse angiosperm families, suggest that insect pollination has had an important role in angiosperm success. Various advantages of insect pollination at the species level, especially those associated with bee and lepidopteran pollinators, are consistent with these correlations-furthermore, modern angiosperm diversity may be more directly related to insect pollination by the speciation-promoting characteristics of constant pollinators. Until the present time, paleontological data have mitigated against this possibility by illustrating that both advanced insect pollinators and their co-adapted angiosperm flowers evolved too late to have been of major significance in angiosperm radiation. Recent analyses of paleobotanical and biogeographical data together with paleobotanical data indicate that hymenopteran and lepidopteran pollinators, and angiosperm taxa having flowers adapted to them, existed at a time of major angiosperm radiation. Although angiosperm success cannot be confidently related to one feature, the importance of insect pollination in the diversification of the group can no longer be minimized in the context of the fossil record. Angiosperms are distinguished among the tracheophyta by their overwhelming diversity \lbrack250/300 families of vascular plants are angiosperms; 240,000/300,000 species of flowering plants are angiosperms (Burger, 1981)\rbrack. The angiosperms are also dominant in sheer numbers of individuals and are of extraordinary economic importance. Furthermore, angiosperms demonstrate stunning variation in vegetative and reproductive morphology, anatomy, and habit.

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