Observations were made on insect visitors to flowers in montane short-tussock grasslands and scrub, and in subalpine and alpine grasslands. New Zealand does not possess native social bees or many other advanced insects, and the flowers were visited by highly variable assemblages of unspecialized insects. The flowers studied were characterized by general pollination systems, only a very few species showing specific floral adaptations to particular pollinators. The general pollination systems are
viewed as an adaptation to highly variable pollinator assemblages; flowers are visited by whatever pollinators are immediately available.
Relationships between pollen loads, resource availability, and fruit and seed production were determined for Lysimachia quadrifolia ramets in two adjacent sites (the scrub site and the open site) in 1982, 1983, and 1984. Pollen loads limited % fruit set and seed production in the open site in 1982 and 1983. Reproduction in the scrub site was resource limited in 1982, as shown by an increase in % fruit set when one-half of the flowers on a ramet were removed prior to fruit initiation. In the scru
b site in 1983, pollination of one-half of the flowers on a ramet decreased the % fruit set of the remaining, unpollinated flowers. Fruit production in the same site was limited by pollen in 1984. Addition of nitrogen fertilizer to the scrub site in 1984 had no effect on fruit and seed production. There was more variation in fruit set between sites than between years. There was no trend to greater fruit set or number of seeds/fruit on early flowers compared to late flowers on the same ramet. Correlations between measures of reproduction were positive or insignificant. These results demonstrate year-and site-specific variation in the factors that limit plant reproduction.
Visitation rates and mean numbers of visits per flower per day are determined at three altitudinal levels (2 200–3 600 m) in the high Andes of central Chile from quantified observations of flowers visitors to a total of 134 species of plants, studied over three flowering seasons. Significant altitudinal decreases in the mean no. visits/flower/minute and per day were recorded, with Level III flowers, on the average, being pollinated only about 1/2 as frequently and to as low as 1/4 as fre
quently in certain months, as Level I flowers. Visitation rates are generally highest in early and mid-summer at all altitudes. — The lower visitation rates at the higher elevations are due to lower insect abundance relative to plant resources and lower levels of activity for the insects present, stemming from the generally lower ambient temperatures. Seasonal differences in visitation rates may also be related to differences in insect abundance levels. The total probability of ovule pollination cannot be estimated directly from the pollination rates, because stigmas are probably receptive for longer periods at the higher elevations. When differences in the duration of stigma receptivity are estimated from differences in flower lifelength, the probability of pollination in Level III is not very different from that expected in Level I. However, for some months, the deficit in Level III may still be substantial. — These results underline the inherent dangers of predicting pollination possibilities directly from pollination rates. They also suggest that the impoverished pollination conditions assumed in hypotheses predicting higher amounts of self-compatibility at high altitudes might not be justified for all high temperate mountains.