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Arthropod fauna of mammal-pollinated Protea humiflora : ants as an attractant for insectivore pollinators?

  • Journal Title: African Entomology
  • Volume: Volume 11
  • Issue:  Issue 1
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: p.9  - 14
  • Authors:  P.A. Fleming;  S.W. Nicolson;
  • ISSN: 10213589
  • Abstract:  <i>Protea humiflora</i> Andrews inflorescences are cryptic, but strongly scented and borne close to the ground (geoflorous) for ready access by small, non-flying mammals. During a study of <i>P. humiflora</i> pollination, we found that insectivorous elephant shrews (Macroscelididae : <i>Elephantulus edwardii</i> (A. Smith)) carried higher pollen loads on their snouts than simultaneously-trapped rodent species. Elephant shrews seem to be acquiring pollen while foraging for insects in the inflorescences. Compared with the larger bird-pollinated inflorescences of <i>P. repens</i> (L.) L., <i>P. humiflora</i> inflorescences have a substantially lower mass of arthropods, relatively fewer beetles (12 % of arthropod dry mass) and more ants (13 %). The large numbers of ants in these inflorescences may attract insectivore pollinators, suggesting an indirect, mutualistic relationship between plant, insect and insectivore.
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