Assessment of Seed Production and Identification of a Pollinator of a South African Species

Дата канвертавання24.04.2016
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Assessment of Seed Production and Identification of a Pollinator of a South African Species (Strelitzia reginae) in Southern California

Frankie Daniel

Mentor: Franz Hoffmann
Strelitzia reginae, also known as bird of paradise, is an important horticultural crop grown in subtropical and tropical climates. In its native South Africa, through a highly adaptive method of pollination, the flowers of this species are pollinated by birds of the Nectariniidae genus. This bird is absent outside of South Africa. Typically, propagation of S. reginae is achieved by growing mature plants from seed. However, because of this lack of a bird pollinator, seed production in the wild is low outside of South Africa. Our goal was to explore the degree of seed production in Southern California and to identify the mechanism by which these seeds are produced. Our observations show that significant variation in the number of seeds between patches of S. reginae exists, where some patches produce considerably more than others, while most produce none. Further investigation revealed that the bird Geothlypis trichas, also known as the Common Yellowthroat, has learned to pollinate the flowers in certain patches using the pollination mechanism evolved by the plant in its native South Africa. We also found that accidental pollination of S. reginae flowers by members of the sparrow family occurred with some limited frequency. Our data and observations led us to conclude that the actions of G. trichas are causing a significant increase in pollination of S. reginae, and thus lead to increased seed production in patches where this behavior is present. We postulate that possible future spreading of this behavior could result in increased pollination and seed production throughout Southern California.

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