A new technique for monitoring pollen flow in orchids
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- Peakall, R. Oecologia (1989) 79: 361. doi:10.1007/BF00384315
The orchid Prasophyllum fimbria is pollinated by nectar-feeding native bees and wasps. The pollinia are patially separated from the viscidium by a stipe so that pollinia can be labelled with coloured histochemical stains without interfering with pollinarium removal. Pollen flow was monitored by following the movement of the coloured pollen in several populations of P. fimbria in Western Australia. Statistical analysis confirmed that pollen labelling did not interfere with pollinarium removal or subsequent pollination of the labelled flower. Fifty eight labelled pollinaria were removed by vectors from 16 test spikes, with a total of 125 flowers on 47 spikes receiving labelled pollen. An average of 2 flowers received pollen for every pollinium removed but up to 6 flowers received pollen from a single collinium. No significant differences between mean vector flights and pollen flow distances were detected. On average, geitonogamous transfers only accounted for 22% of all pollinations. This is a simple and inexpensive technique for the direct labelling of pollen with minimal disruption to the pollination system and may have applications in other plant families.