Материал из Антэкология /// Anthecology
Floral longevity and reproductive assurance: seasonal patterns and an experimental test with Kalmia latifolia (Ericaceae)
Floral longevity is assumed to reflect a balance between the benefit of increased pollination success and the cost of flower maintenance. Flowers of Kalmia latifolia (Ericaceae), mountain laurel, have a long duration and can remain viable up to 21 d if unpollinated. I experimentally tested whether this long duration increases pollination success by clipping stigmas to reduce functional floral longevity to 3-4 d. Clipping stigmas decreased fruit set from 65% to only 10%. Flowers with natural life spans were not pollination-limited, demonstrating that long floral duration ensured female reproductive success. The long floral duration of K. latifolia was unique in this site (the Great Swamp, Rhode Island, USA). Coflowering shrubs in summer had a mean floral life span of 3.4 d. Spring-flowering species had significantly longer mean floral durations (7.2 d). These duration differences may reflect seasonal variation in pollinator availability. However, K. latifolia flowers in summer, when its bumble bee pollinators are abundant but it is a poor competitor for bees because its flowers produce little nectar. The long floral duration allows K. latifolia to outlast coflowering competitors and attract sufficient pollinators. I hypothesize that the long floral duration of K. latifolia functions as a mechanism for competitive avoidance and reproductive assurance.