Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 298, Issue 7, pp 1271–1279 | Cite as

Tibouchina pulchra (Melastomataceae): reproductive biology of a tree species at two sites of an elevational gradient in the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil

  • Vinícius L. G. BritoEmail author
  • Marlies Sazima
Original Article


Low-temperature environments interfere with plant reproduction by reducing the frequency of pollinators, and this may favour reproductive strategies such as self-pollination and apomixis. Tibouchina pulchra is a common tree species that occurs at high and low sites of the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest. This study focussed on the pollination biology and breeding system of this species, describing the pollinators and the reproductive success at the two sites of an elevational gradient. Observations were made to determine extent of flowering and fruiting, to identify the richness and abundance of pollinators, and to record data on the floral and reproductive biology at these two sites. Despite more dense flowering at the high site, five visits of bees (two species) were recorded during the observation time (60 h), whereas at the low site there were 948 visits (seven species) during the same period. In contrast with the low site, the flowers of the high site released and received few pollen grains on the stigma. At the high site less fruit was set with fewer seeds as a result of open pollination than at the low site; at that site, however, more seeds were obtained from cross-pollination than at the low site. Tibouchina pulchra is self-compatible; however it is not apomictic and needs pollinators for seed set at both sites. Life-history traits other than the breeding system, for example more dense flowering, advantage of greater fertility in cross-pollination, and multiple reproductive events during the lifetime of the tree may reduce inbreeding depression, increase the hybrid vigour, and balance the lack of pollinators at the high site.


Bombus morio Buzz pollination High and low sites Reproductive assurance Southeastern Brazil 



We thank the Instituto Florestal (Parque Estadual da Serra do Mar, Núcleo Santa Virginia and Núcleo Picinguaba) for permits to study pollination biology in protected public land, I. Bressan for technical help in the laboratory, A. L. Lima, D. P. Maia, M. L. Pereira, and A. E. Ferreras for valuable help in the field, and L. Galetto and S. Buzato for helpful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. We also thank an anonymous reviewer for significant contributions. This work was supported by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (grant numbers 131969/2008-0 to V.L.G.B. and 302452/2008-7 to M.S.) and by the State of São Paulo Research Foundation as part of the Thematic Project Functional Gradient (process number 03/12595-7), within the BIOTA/FAPESP Program—The Biodiversity Virtual Institute ( COTEC/IF 41.065/2005 and IBAMA/CGEN 093/2005 permits.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Vegetal, Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual de CampinasCampinasBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Estadual de CampinasCampinasBrazil

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