, Volume 80, Issue 2, pp 241–248 | Cite as

Pollinator abundance, morphology, and flower visitation rate: analysis of the “quantity” component in a plant-pollinator system

  • Carlos M. Herrera
Original Papers


Abundance and flower visitation rate of the pollinators of Lavandula latifolia (Labiatae), an insect-pollinated shrub, were studied over a 6-year period. The objective was to elucidate interspecific patterns in the “quantity” component of the plant-pollinator interaction. A total of 54 insect taxa are considered in the analyses, including hynenopterans, dipterans and lepidopterans. Most pollinators were comparatively scarce, with a few taxa acounting collectively for the majority of individuals. Pollinators differed broadly in flower visitation rate (0.2–30 flowers/min). Most of this variation was explained by differences in flower handling time (HT). Regardless of proboscis length, hymenopterans had intrinsically shorter handling times than lepidopterans. Within each group, HT decreased exponentially with increasing proboscis length. Abundance and visitation rate were uncorrelated across pollinator taxa. The total number of visits that each pollinator contributed to the plant (NFV) was estimated as the product of abundance x visitation rate. NFV values spanned four orders of magnirade. A small, taxonomically diverse group of species (1 moth, 1 butterfly, 4 bees) accounted for most visits and thus could effectively exert some selection on floral features. Nevertheless, the morphological diversity represented in this group of dominant pollinators probably constrains plant specialization, as they will most likely select for different floral features or in opposing directions on the same traits.

Key words

Foraging behavior Lavandula latifolia Mutualism Pollinator abundance Specialization 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos M. Herrera
    • 1
  1. 1.Estación Biológica de DoñanaSevillaSpain

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