The critical role of honeyeaters in the pollination of the catspaw Anigozanthos humilis (Haemodoraceae)

Tayla Van Der Kroft, David G. Roberts, Siegfried L. Krauss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The pollination biology of Anigozanthos humilis (Haemodoraceae) was studied within a Banksia woodland reserve using a combination of field techniques and genetic analysis. Motion-triggered cameras were deployed on 25 flowering plants to identify visitors to flowers, quantify visitation rates and assess visitor behaviour. Entire A. humilis plants were caged to exclude potential floral visitors with six treatments: (i) bird and honey possum exclusion, allowing access by insects (ii) bird and insect exclusion, allowing access by honey possums (iii) total animal exclusion (iv) open, allowing access by birds, insects and honey possums (v) hand-pollination with cross-pollen and (vi) hand-pollination with self-pollen. Open pollinated seed were genotyped to assess mating system parameters including outcrossing rate. From 23 424 h of surveillance with camera traps, 109 visits were recorded, 106 (97%) of which were western spinebills (Acanthorhynchus superciliosus), with three visits by brown honeyeaters (Lichmera indistincta). We recorded an average of 8 (±4) visits per plant, equivalent to one visit every eleven days over the 2016 flowering season (mean = 63 days). Mean seed set per fruit was negligible (0.2-0.3 seed per fruit) for all pollination treatments except open- and hand-pollination with cross pollen. Mean seed set per fruit for hand cross-pollinated flowers (37.1 seed per fruit) was 37 times that of open pollinated flowers (1.0 seed per fruit). Outcrossing rate estimates were not significantly different to one. Our results indicate that at least for the study population and season, A. humilis was largely dependent on western spinebills for delivery of outcross pollen and resulting seed set, but visitation rates were low and pollen limitation was severe. Given the known sensitivity of western spinebills to habitat fragmentation, our results suggest flow on effects that may negatively impact on reproduction, and means that A. humilis may be particularly vulnerable to environmental changes that impact on bird pollinators.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jun 2019

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