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Heterogeneity of Tropical Floral Microclimates and the Response of Hummingbird Flower Mites
- Dobkin, David S.
- Ecology 1985 v.66 no.2 pp. 536-543
- Ascidae, Heliconia, field experimentation, flowers, hummingbirds, inoculum, microclimate, mites, nectar feeding, rain forests, reproduction
- Analyses of microclimatic patterns on Heliconia wagneriana inflorescences inhabited by nectarivorous hummingbird flower mites (Gamasida: Ascidae) in secondary lower montane rainforest reveal the existence of substantial microclimatic variation both among and within individual inflorescences. Field experiments demonstrate that the mites respond to this variation by exploiting thermally favorable locations and avoiding thermally adverse conditions within inflorescences. Field introductions of mite population inocula to uninhabited inflorescences show that mite reproduction (and probably survival) is affected strongly by inflorescence microclimate. Floral microclimate, in conjunction with hummingbird visitation patterns, controls mite dispersal among inflorencences. These experiments illustrate the impact of microclimatological heterogeneity on the population biology of a tropical phytophagous arthropod.