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A linkage between flowering phenology and fruit-set success of alpine plant communities with reference to the seasonality and pollination effectiveness of bees and flies

  • Plant-microbe-animal interactions - original research
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Abstract

To clarify the linkage between flowering phenology and pollination success in alpine plant communities, we quantified the seasonality of flower visitors, the temporal transition of floral resources, and the variation in pollination success of alpine plants in northern Japan. Bumble bees, syrphid flies, and non-syrphid flies were the predominant flower visitors. Foraging activity of bumble bees increased toward the late flowering period reflecting the life cycle of colony development. The activity of syrphid flies was sensitive to ambient temperature, while that of non-syrphid flies remained high throughout the season. Flower production of bee-pollinated plants fluctuated significantly between years with a bimodal pattern peaking in the early and late periods, while flower production of fly-pollinated plants was less variable between years. Fruit-set success of bee-pollinated plants increased considerably from the early to the late flowering period, while the trend for fly-pollinated plants was less marked. Three times more visits of dipteran insects are necessary for fly-pollinated plants to achieve fruiting success comparable to bee-pollinated plants. Bumble bees are potentially excellent pollinators, but the visitation frequency is low early in the season. Lower pollination ability of dipteran insects may be compensated for by abundant flower visits. The relationships between flowering phenology and fruit-set success of alpine plant communities highly depend on the type of pollinators.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Y. Amagai, Y. Aoshima, K. Chen, M. Tomita, H. Muroya, and Y. Kamano for their assistance in the field surveys and laboratory works. This study is partly supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant numbers 23405006, 15H02641, and 17K07551.

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YM and GK conceived the idea, designed the experiments, conducted field work, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yuki Mizunaga.

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Communicated by Richard Karban.

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Mizunaga, Y., Kudo, G. A linkage between flowering phenology and fruit-set success of alpine plant communities with reference to the seasonality and pollination effectiveness of bees and flies. Oecologia 185, 453–464 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-017-3946-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-017-3946-9

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