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

Fleming, P.A. and Nicolson, S.W. (2003) Arthropod fauna of mammal-pollinated Protea humiflora: Ants as an attractant for insectivore pollinators? African Entomology, 11 (1). pp. 9-14.

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    Abstract

    Protea humiflora 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 P. humiflora pollination, we found that insectivorous elephant shrews (Macroscelididae: Elephantulus edwardii (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 P. repens (L.) L., P. humiflora 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.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Publisher: Entomological Society of Southern Africa
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/4727
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