body size exotic plant invasion pollen transfer weeds pollination insect
Stout JC, Pollination of invasive Rhododendron ponticum (Ericaceae) in Ireland, Apidologie, 38, (2), 2007, p198 - 206
Apidologie 38, 2
Several insect species visited exotic Rhododendron ponticum flowers, but bumblebees were most
common. Only bumblebees (and one Vespula) contacted the flower stigma whilst foraging and are probably
the main pollinators. One-third of insect visits resulted in stigma contact and visitation rates were high.
This explains the high seed set reported elsewhere. There were significant differences according to the body
size of visitors, with large queen bees contacting stigmas more often than smaller workers. There were no
significant differences in behaviour of three species (Bombus jonellus, B. lucorum and B. monticola) and all
bees tended to move short distances between flowers on a single plant. Longer flights and movements among
plants were rare. Pollen carryover was estimated to be high: there was no decline in the amount of pollen
deposited on stigmas from the first to fifth flower visited. The impact of bee behaviour on reproduction and
invasion by exotic R. ponticum is discussed.
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