Ecological Research

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 247–267 | Cite as

Insects and plants in the pollination ecology of the boreal zone

  • P. G. Kevan
  • E. A. Tikhmenev
  • M. Usui


Pollination systems in the boreal zone range from generalist to specialist, both entomologically and botanically. The relative importance of wind pollination, insect pollination, sexual separation between and within plants, and between flowers, hermaphroditism of flowers, and various breeding systems are related to plant growth form and habitat. The diversity and specializations of anthophilous insects parallel those in other biogeographic zones, but seem less developed. We suggest that this reflects the combined effects of evolutionary youth, severity of climate, restriction of symbiont ranges within those of their hosts, and the naturally frequent perturbations by fire or insect outbreaks in the zone, requiring faunal and floral vagility and constraining specialization in mutualism. Modern perturbations by logging and pesticides seem to be well buffered because of the relative openness of the ecosystem (compared to others), although damage has been documented. Insect pollination is as much a keystone process in the boreal forest as elsewhere, despite the immediate counter-impression given by the dominance of wind-pollinated conifers. Nevertheless, there are few studies, botanical or entomologicalin situ. The boreal system offers important opportunities in general and applied research in pollination ecology and synecology generally.

Key words

anthecology boreal floral biology pollinators taiga 


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Copyright information

© Ecological Society of Japan 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. G. Kevan
    • 1
  • E. A. Tikhmenev
    • 2
  • M. Usui
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental BiologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Biological Problems of the NorthAcademy of SciencesMagadanRussia

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