Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 117–125 | Cite as

Abundance and diversity of flower visitors on wild and cultivated cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) in Bolivia

  • Claudia Chumacero de Schawe
  • Michael Kessler
  • Isabell Hensen
  • Teja Tscharntke
Article

Abstract

Despite the economic importance of Theobroma cacao, surprisingly little is known about its pollination ecology. Ceratopogonid midges are considered to be the main pollinators, but the limited available evidence on the sexual reproduction is based almost exclusively on cultivated cacao and knowledge is nonexistent for wild populations. We documented flower visitors in wild and cultivated plants by applying glue on 2237 flowers of wild and cultivated cacao trees in Bolivia to trap floral visitors. We caught 631 insects belonging to seven orders, corresponding to a mean capture rate of 0.3 insects per flower. The most abundant and diverse insect order on both cacao types was Hymenoptera, represented mainly by small parasitoids. Hymenoptera were more abundant on wild cacao, whereas species richness was higher on cultivated cacao. The abundance and species richness of Diptera were not significantly different between wild and cultivated cacao. However, species composition and proportion of Diptera species differed between both wild and cultivated cacao. Ceratopogonidae were only represented by 13 individuals belonging to seven species. Cacao pollen was carried by only a single specimen of Encyrtidae. We were thus unable to identify actual pollinators. We found significant differences among the visitor assemblages between wild and cultivated cacao, which suggest that midges alone were probably too rare to act as main or even sole pollinators of cacao in our study region. Potential additional pollinators would be small Diptera (e.g., Chloropidae and Phoridae) and Hymenoptera (e.g., Eulophidae and Platygastridae).

Keywords

Pollinator Diptera Hymenoptera Forcypomyia Midge 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank the German Science Foundation (HE 3041/17-1) for funding this project. We also thank the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for the scholarship granted to CC. For assistance in the field, we thank R. Hurtado, C. Campos, and the local assistants J. Navi, C. Ibaguari, E. Amutari and W. Amutari. For insect identification, we thank G. Spinelli and P. Marino (Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina), I. Vollhardt (University of Göttingen, Germany) and M. Limachi (Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia). We also thank the National Herbarium of Bolivia (LPB) for logistic support, and the Ministerio de Desarrollo Rural y Medio Ambiente – Dirección General de Biodiversidad y Áreas Protegidas in Bolivia for research permits.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Chumacero de Schawe
    • 1
  • Michael Kessler
    • 2
  • Isabell Hensen
    • 3
    • 4
  • Teja Tscharntke
    • 1
  1. 1.Agroecology, Department of Crop SciencesGeorg August University GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Systematic BotanyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Institute of BiologyMartin-Luther-University of Halle-WittenbergHalleGermany
  4. 4.German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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