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Journal Article

Is There a Floral Parasite Mutualism in Cycad Pollination? The Pollination Biology of Encephalartos villosus (Zamiaceae)

John S. Donaldson
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 84, No. 10 (Oct., 1997), pp. 1398-1406
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2446138
Page Count: 9

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Topics: Pollen, Pollination, Pollinating insects, Insect pollination, Ovules, Beetles, Taxa, Mutualism, Species, Biology
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Is There a Floral Parasite Mutualism in Cycad Pollination? The Pollination Biology of Encephalartos villosus (Zamiaceae)
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Abstract

Observations and experiments were carried out over 5 yr to distinguish between wind and insect pollination in the cycad Encephalartos villosus Lemaire (Zamiaceae). They were also designed to determine whether a pollination mutualism exists between E. villosus and Antliarhinus zamiae (Thunberg) (Coleoptera: Brentidae), an obligate ovule parasite that routinely parasitizes a large proportion of the ovules. The percentage of fertilized ovules dropped slightly when wind was excluded from the megastrobilus. However, when insects were excluded by either net bags or insecticide there was a substantial decrease in the proportion of fertilized ovules. Five beetle species belonging to four families were found on the strobili at the time of pollination. Using data on the effectiveness of pollen transfer to the receptive ovule, as well as data on abundance and pollen loads, a pollinator importance value (PIV) was determined for each beetle species and a pollinator importance index (PII) was determined for each population. PII values showed that an undescribed weevil (Porthetes sp., Curculionidae) was consistently the most important pollinator. A. zamiae and an undescribed beetle species within the Xenoscelinae (Languriidae) played a minor role in pollination, and their contributions varied from year to year and between populations. Two additional beetle species, Metacucujus goodei Endrody-Younga (Boganiidae) and a second species of Xenoscelinae, had very low PII values and probably had little or no effect on pollination. Low PIV scores for A. zamiae were a result of its low numbers on the microstrobilus and the tendency of the beetles to remain on the outside of the megastrobilus. In the interaction between E. villosus and A. zamiae, the cycad does not appear to benefit significantly from a pollination service and I interpret this to mean that the relationship is antagonistic rather than mutualistic. There is, however, a possible mutualism between Porthetes sp. and E. villosus.

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