Visitation frequencies of bumblebees and swallowtail butterflies to flowers and the nectar sugar concentration of Rhododendron kaempferi and R. japonicum in mountains of central Japan
Relationships between flower visitor composition and floral traits help us to understand floral evolution. Swallowtail butterflies have been assumed to be the main pollinators of Rhododendron kaempferi and R. japonicum based on their floral shapes, and R. kaempferi was reported to be pollinated by butterflies in southern Japan. In the mountains of central and northern Japan, however, bumblebees are abundant and candidate pollinators of Rhododendron. We found that visitation frequencies of bumblebees were higher than those of swallowtail butterflies to both of the Rhododendron species at three study sites in the mountains of central Japan. R. japonicum pollen adhered to the bodies of both floral visitors. Further, the nectar sugar concentration of R. kaempferi was in the preference range of bumblebees, whereas that of R. japonicum was suited to both bumblebees and butterflies. Taken together, these findings support the hypothesis that bumblebees are potentially also important pollinators of R. kaempferi and R. japonicum in mountains of central Japan, where they are more abundant than swallowtail butterflies.
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