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Nocturnal Mammals, Diurnal Lizards, and the Pollination Ecology of the cryptic flowering Acrotriche serrulata (Ericaceae)

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Johnson, K and McQuillan, PB and Kirkpatrick, JB (2011) Nocturnal Mammals, Diurnal Lizards, and the Pollination Ecology of the cryptic flowering Acrotriche serrulata (Ericaceae). International Journal of Plant Science, 172 (2). pp. 173-182. ISSN 1058-5893

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Abstract

Acrotriche serrulata exhibits a complex and uncommon form of flowering. It starts with a male-phase flower
that shows secondary pollen presentation on the perianth and follows with a female phase after the corolla is
removed or abscissed. We examined the potential for insects, lizards, and mammals to act as pollinators.
Observations and experiments on breeding system, phenology, floral scent, flower visitors, and lizard feeding
were undertaken in southern Australia. Acrotriche serrulata sets little fruit by autonomous selfing but readily sets
fruit after facilitated geitonogamy and xenogamy. Flower anthesis is diurnal and nocturnal. The nectar profile
includes acetaldehyde, ethanol, and ethyl acetate. The nocturnal mammals Trichosurus vulpecula and the
introduced Rattus rattus were the only visitors observed to actively forage on the flowers. In contrast, the skinks
Egernia whitii, Niveoscincus ocellatus, and Niveoscincus metallicus routinely passed flowers full of nectar and
foraged only on those presented during feeding observations. Insects visited the flowers but did not behave as
pollinators. Acrotriche serrulata is likely to be pollinated by nocturnal mammals attracted to its flowers by scent.
Effective pollinators appear to be rare over some of its range. This may have implications for the long-term
reproductive success and conservation of A. serrulata.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Plant Science
Page Range: pp. 173-182
ISSN: 1058-5893
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1086/657280
Additional Information:

The definitive version is held by The University of Chicago Press

Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2011 03:19
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:22
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