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Nectar feeding by the Cape rock elephant-shrew Elephantulus edwardii (Macroscelidea) — A primarily insectivorous mammal pollinates the parasite Hyobanche atropurpurea (Orobanchaceae)

Wester, Petra
Flora 2011 v.206 no.12 pp. 997-1001
Macroscelidea, Orobanchaceae, feces, fur, nectar, nose, parasites, pollen, pollination, pollinators, rocks, small mammals, stigma, tongue, South Africa
Cape rock elephant-shrews, Elephantulus edwardii (Macroscelidea) were found to be pollinators of Hyobanche atropurpurea (Orobanchaceae), a member of a holoparasitic plant genus, lacking up to now any detailed pollinator observations. The elephant-shrews were live-trapped near the plants in the Western Cape of South Africa. One animal was released in a terrarium, containing the plants. It licked nectar with its long and slender tongue while being dusted with pollen and touching the stigmas of the flowers with its nose and the fur above the snout. H. atropurpurea pollen was found in swabs of the fur around noses and snouts as well as in the faeces of captured animals. The occurrence of pollen in the faeces of the elephant-shrews is likely a result of grooming their fur as they visited the flowers without eating or damaging them. This is one of the first records of pollinating, nectar-drinking elephant-shrews, contributing to the very scarce knowledge about the behaviour of those primarily insectivorous animals, as well as small mammal pollination.