Pollination of Euphorbia dendroides by lizards and insects: Spatio-temporal variation in patterns of flower visitation
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The patterns of flower visitation by lizards (Podarcis lilfordi, Lacertidae) and insects (mainly flies, bees and wasps) on the shrub Euphorbia dendroides, were studied in the island of Cabrera (Balearic Islands) during the flowering seasons of 1995 and 1996. Lizards act as true pollinators of the plant, moving large quantities of pollen within and among shrubs. To our knowledge, this is the first time that pollination by lizards has been empirically demonstrated. Variation in the quantitative component of pollination (frequency of visits × flower visitation rate) by the two groups of pollinators (lizards and insects) is documented at both spatial (within a plant population) and temporal scales (throughout the flowering season and between seasons). Variation in lizard density on a small spatial scale (within c. 200 m), presumably due to differences in vegetation cover, strongly affected their frequency of flower visitation. Insects were rather scarce, mainly because the plant flowers at a time (mid-March) when temperatures are still low. At the site where lizards were abundant, their frequency of flower visits was more than 3 times that of insects, they stayed on the shrubs about 3 times longer and visited about 8 times more cyathia per minute than did insects. Fruit and seed set were greater at this site, and this is attributed to the different frequency of flower visits by lizards, as shrubs are similar in size and produce similar amounts of cyathia in the two sites compared. Both, lizards and insects went more frequently to plants with large flower crops. However, flower crop was not associated with seed viability. We found no evidence for pollinator-mediated selection on plant traits related to fitness.
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