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Pollination Effectiveness of Specialist and Generalist Visitors to a North Carolina Population of Claytonia Virginica

Motten, Alexander F., Campbell, Diane R., Alexander, David E., Miller, Helen L.
Ecology 1981 v.62 no.5 pp. 1278-1287
Andrena, Claytonia, deciduous forests, females, flowering, flowers, foraging, pollination, pollinators, probability, seed set, seeds, solitary bees, spring, weather, wild flowers, North Carolina
We measured the pollination effectiveness and visitation rates of major insect visitors of Claytonia virginica, an obligately insect—pollinated spring wildflower, in a North Carolina deciduous forest. Seed set in the population was not pollinator—limited except during rainy weather and very early in the flowering season. The solitary bee Andrena erigeniae and the bee fly Bombylius major were responsible for more than 75% of the visits to C. virginica. Andrena erigeniae is a specialist on C. virginica, while B. major is a common visitor to many plant species. We measured the effectiveness of a pollinator by the probability that a visit resulted in fruit (capsule) formation. For those flowers that were successfully pollinated and thus produced a capsule, number of seeds did not vary with visitor identity or the total number of visits received. Although B. major and female A. erigeniae differ greatly in morphology and foraging behavior, a visit by either insect results in equally high seed set. As B. major is about two—thirds as abundant as A. erigeniae females on C. virginica, both insects contribute substantially to seed set in our population. With the visitation frequency and pollination effectiveness we measured, the generalist B. major alone has the potential to pollinate three—quarters of the flowers.