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Pollen Loads of Flower Visitors to Açaí Palm (Euterpe oleracea) and Implications for Management of Pollination Services

Abstract

Understanding the functional roles of different pollinator species is crucial to the development of sustainable farming practices in pollinator-dependent crops. However, this can be challenging for crop plants in tropical regions with hyper-diverse pollinator communities. Here, we assess pollen loads of different insect visitors to inflorescences of açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea), the most important native crop in the Amazon estuary region. Flower-visiting insects were collected from pistillate (female) inflorescences at eight sites, including four managed floodplain forests and four plantations. Pollinator Importance Value Index (PIVI) and Relative Importance (RI) scores were calculated for common visitor taxa (≥ 10 individuals) using sum visit frequencies and median pollen loads. Pollen load analyses revealed that over seventy insect taxa, including bees, flies, beetles, wasps and ants, were effective vectors of E. oleracea pollen. Native bees, including both solitary and eusocial taxa, were the most efficient pollen vectors, with median pollen loads at least eight times higher than those of the next best insect group (flies). Insect pollen loads were at their highest between 0800 and 1300 hours, and four insect taxa had RI scores > 0.05, including two meliponine bees belonging to the Trigona genus (Trigona branneri Cockerell and Trigona pallens Fabricius) and two halictid bee genera (Augochloropsis and Dialictus). Our results suggest that native bees play an important role in açaí pollination and should be the primary focus of pollinator management in açaí production systems.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Prof. Peter Bernhardt for advice on pollen staining methods and specialists who aided the identification of collected insects, including Dr. Beatriz Woiski Texeira Coelho (Apoidea), Dr. Orlando Tobias Silveira (Vespidae), Dr. José Nazareno Araújo Santos Junior (Vespidae), Dr. Fernando Carvalho Filho (Diptera), Dr. Jéssica Herzog Viana (Chrysomelidae) and Dr. Roberta de Melo Valente (Curculionidae).

Funding

AJC was funded by two grants provided by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) (159326/2015-0; CNPq/MCTIC/IBAMA/ABELHA call 032/2017, grant no. 400568/2018-7). CM was funded by grants provided by CNPq (grant no. 306904/2016-0).

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LAB and AJC contributed equally to this paper. AJC, CM and MMM designed the study; AJC conducted fieldwork; LAB performed pollen analyses and mounted collected material; TFB and AJC analysed data; LAB wrote initial draft (Portuguese); AJC, TFB and LAB revised initial draft; and AJC translated initial draft into English. All authors contributed significantly to subsequent revisions of the manuscript and approved the final version.

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Correspondence to A J Campbell.

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L A Bezerra and A J Campbell are joint first authors

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Bezerra, L.A., Campbell, A.J., Brito, T.F. et al. Pollen Loads of Flower Visitors to Açaí Palm (Euterpe oleracea) and Implications for Management of Pollination Services. Neotrop Entomol 49, 482–490 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13744-020-00790-x

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Keywords

  • Tropical rainforest
  • native bees
  • Amazon
  • brood pollinator
  • ecosystem services
  • sustainable agriculture