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Abstract Specialization of a plant on a particular polli-nator may not evolve if co-pollinators are effective and

Summary: Abstract Specialization of a plant on a particular polli-
nator may not evolve if co-pollinators are effective and
abundant. This is particularly evident if fruit set is re-
source limited and cannot be increased above the levels
produced by the actions of co-pollinators. The pollinat-
ing seed-consuming interaction between senita cacti and
senita moths in the Sonoran Desert presents a paradox
because it exhibits many traits resembling those of the
highly specialized yucca/yucca moth system, but also in-
volves co-pollinators. For 6 years, we studied how con-
tributions of nocturnal senita moths and diurnal co-polli-
nating bees to fruit set depended on resource and pollen
limitation, time of flower closing, and the onset and phe-
nology of flowering. Fruit set was typically resource lim-
ited. Fruit set of flowers exposed only to senita moths
was not different from resource-limited fruit set of con-
trol flowers. When only co-pollinating bees were al-
lowed to visit flowers, however, fruit set became pollen
limited. Only in one year when fruit set was pollen limit-
ed were bees able to increase fruit set beyond the level


Source: Azevedo, Ricardo - Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston
Holland, J. Nathaniel - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Environmental Sciences and Ecology