, Volume 198, Issue 1-2, pp 17-27

Ant pollination of the palaeoendemic dioeciousBorderea pyrenaica (Dioscoreaceae)

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Abstract

The importance of ants for pollination in the dioeciousBorderea pyrenaica (Dioscoreaceae), a Tertiary palaeoendemic plant of the Pyrenees (NE Iberian Peninsula) was studied. The frequency of different visitors (ants, lady beetles, andDiptera) to staminate and pistillate flowers was quantified, and their effectiveness as pollinators was examined by means of fruit and seed set in selective experimental exclusions. Although ants were less abundant on flowers than other visitors, they were the most effective pollinators. Some qualitative factors of this mutualistic ant-plant interaction may account for their effectiveness: the small size of the ants, their high visitation rate to pistillate flowers, and the lack of reduction in viability of the pollen transported on the integument. In addition, the sedentary nature of ants assures their presence during the flowering period. The most abundant floral visitors ofB. pyrenaica were therefore not the most effective pollinators.