Sundry Sonication: Bee Diversity Across Three Buzz-Pollinated Melastomataceae Communities.

ID: 613 / 451

Category: Abstract

Track: Pending

Proposed Symposium Title: Sundry Sonication: Bee Diversity Across Three Buzz-Pollinated Melastomataceae Communities.


Ash M. Kerber1

Benjamin S. Lazarus2

Agnes S. Dellinger2

Affiliations: 1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA 2. Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria


In the plant family Melastomataceae, more than 5000 species have evolved stamens with poricidal anthers that necessitate a functionally specialized interaction with pollinators in order to release pollen: buzz-pollination. Bees are the only group of pollinators capable of applying vibrations of the required frequency, amplitude and duration to flowers so that pollen is expelled in clouds from the stamens. However, not all bees are capable of sonicating flowers, but at least 74 recognized genera can. How these bees ration floral resources is unclear. It is possible that bee size and morphology may influence the frequency and amplitude of their vibrations. In this poster, we aim to explore whether buzz pollinating bees share or partition floral resources across three communities of co-flowering Melastomataceae. Through observational studies, video data and field experiments, we measure pollinator composition, behavior, and visitation rates across three different ecosystems in the campo rupestre of Brazil, the cloud forests of Ecuador and the pine savannas of Florida, USA. While we see substantial pollinator overlap in the Melastomataceae community in Florida, certain bee behaviors indicate pollination niche partitioning and specialization in the tropical communities. Some of our data suggests that larger bees visit larger flowers while smaller bees may be less picky about flower size.  By investigating the pollinator composition of distinct Melastomataceae communities with different floral phenotypes, we hope to contribute to a more realistic understanding of the evolutionary processes underlying the diversification of flower phenotypes sharing the same functionally specialized pollination strategy. 

Symposia selection: 107, 76, 198

Key words: flower evolution, bees, buzz pollination, morphometrics, specialization, Melastomataceae