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The Pollination of Merremia palmeri (Convolvulaceae): Can Hawk Moths be Trusted?

Alexander P. Willmott and Alberto Burquez
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 83, No. 8 (Aug., 1996), pp. 1050-1056
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2445994
Page Count: 7
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The Pollination of Merremia palmeri (Convolvulaceae): Can Hawk Moths be Trusted?
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Abstract

The reproductive biology of Merremia palmeri and the pollination efficiency of its insect visitors were examined for a Sonoran Desert population in northwestern Mexico. Pollen transfer experiments proved that the plant is self-incompatible Reproduction is, therefore, dependent upon reliable visitation by the primary pollinators, hawk moths. Many aspects of the floral structure are typical of sphingophilous flowers, and the time of flower opening and nectar secretion corresponded to the period of greatest hawk moth activity A single hawk moth visit to a flower could be sufficient for successful fertilization Additional visits up to five increased percentage fruit set, but flowers that received six or more visits had lower fruit and seed set. Neither the number of moth visits nor fruit and seed set were correlated with temperature or relative humidity Over the course of the study >55% of flowers set fruit. We conclude that hawk moths are reliable and efficient pollinators for M palmeri in a warm desert habitat.

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