Pollination effectiveness and pollination efficiency of insects foraging Prosopis velutina in south-eastern Arizona.

Published online
29 Oct 1995
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Keys, R. N. & Buchmann, S. L. & Smith, S. E.

Publication language
USA & Arizona


Plant-pollinator interactions were examined with respect to Prosopis velutina, and provide the first quantification of pollination effectiveness and pollination efficiency of several groups of insects that forage on this species in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, Arizona. Pollination effectiveness is defined as a measure of an insect's potential as a pollen vector, as reflected by its ability to effect fruit production significantly. Pollination effectiveness of small insects, determined by covering inflorescences with mesh bags with 3 mm pore size, was equal to that on completely open-pollinated inflorescence. Pollination effectiveness of nocturnal insects, determined by exposing inflorescence to visitation only at night, was non-significant. However, actual activity of nocturnal insects was not monitored. Pollination efficiency is defined as the relative ability of an insect to pollinate flowers effectively, as measured by fruit production per some unit of measure (i.e. per visit). Three measures of pollination efficiency based on pod production per visit (Spears' PE), per minute on the inflorescence (PEt), and per unit of distance traversed on the inflorescence (PEd) were determined for Apis mellifera, Chalicodoma spp., Colletidae, Perdita spp. and Volucella spp. Chalicodoma spp. were most efficient according to Spears' PE and PEt. Perdita spp. and Volucella spp. were equally as efficient as A. mellifera. Colletidae had the lowest values for all three measures of PE. The results are discussed with regard to interactions between floral development and insect behaviour. When considering the number of visits required by a particular insect to effect pod production equal to that of open-pollinated inflorescences, native Chalicodoma spp., Perdita spp. and Volucella spp. were more efficient than the introduced A. mellifera. The implications of the results, with regard to the conservation of biological diversity in natural ecosystems and the utilization of insects in pod or seed production orchards, are discussed.

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