The breeding system and effectiveness of introduced and native pollinators of the endangered tropical tree Goetzea elegans (Solanaceae)

Marcos A. Caraballo-Ortiz, Eugenio Santiago-Valentín

Abstract


The impact of introduced species on native organisms is one of the main conservation concerns around the world. To fully understand the effect of introduced pollinators on native plants, it is important to know the reproductive biology of the focal species, especially its pollination biology. In this study we examined the breeding system of the endangered tree Goetzea elegans (Solanaceae), and compared pollination effectiveness of the two main floral visitors, Coereba flaveola (an avian nectarivore), and Apis mellifera (the introduced European Honeybee). We assessed the breeding system of G. elegans by applying several pollination treatments to flowers of cultivated trees to test fruit set, seed set, and seed viability. We also examined the pollination efficiency of A. mellifera and C. flaveola , and compared all the treatments with positive and negative controls. Our results indicate that the introduced honeybee A. mellifera is as efficient as the native bird C. flaveola in pollinating the flowers of G. elegans. This study also showed that G. elegans requires cross–pollination for fruit and seed set, and to obtain high seed viability rates. Despite the fact that many studies report exotic species as detrimental for native organisms, we document a case where an introduced insect has a beneficial impact on the reproductive biology of an endangered tropical tree.

Keywords


<i>Apis mellifera</i>; <i>Coereba flaveola</i>; geitonogamy; outcrossing; Puerto Rico; selfing

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ISSN 1920-7603

 

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