Brazilian Journal of Botany
On-line version ISSN 1806-9959
FONSECA, Rosineide Braz Santos; FUNCH, Ligia Silveira and BORBA, Eduardo Leite. Reproductive phenology of Melocactus (Cactaceae) species from Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil. Rev. bras. Bot. [online]. 2008, vol.31, n.2, pp. 237-244. ISSN 1806-9959. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-84042008000200006.
This paper discusses the phenological strategies of Melocactus glaucescens Buining & Brederoo, M. paucispinus G. Heimen & R. Paul, M. ernestii Vaupel and M. ×albicephalus Buining & Brederoo, species from Chapada Diamantina, northeastern Brazil. Melocactus glaucescens, M. ernestii and M. ×albicephalus occur sympatrically in an area of "caatinga"/"cerrado" vegetation, and M. paucispinus in an area of "cerrado"/"campo rupestre". The superposition of flowering in these sympatric taxa was compared and analyzed. The phenology of M. paucispinus was correlated with both abiotic and biotic factors. Flowering of M. glaucescens and M. ×albicephalus were observed to be continuous (though with moderate peaks of activity), while fruiting was sub-annual. Melocactus ernestii exhibited an annual pattern of both flowering and fruiting; while in M. paucispinus the same patterns were sub-annual. These sympatric taxa showed 40% overlap of flowering periods, reaching to more than 50% in paired combinations of taxa, considering both the number of specimens flowering, as well as the quantity of resources being offered. Available information indicates that these taxa share pollinators, but phenological data rejects the hypothesis of shared pollinators and supports the hypothesis of hybridization in the study area. Rainfall was negatively correlated with flowering in M. paucispinus, but positively correlated with fruiting. Flowering of M. paucispinus in dry periods of the year avoids that erect flowers positioned in terminal cephalium, exposed in open areas of the vegetation, be damaged for the rains, while fruiting in rainy periods can be favorable to the dispersion and germination of this species.
Keywords : Cactaceae; hybridization; Melocactus; phenology; reproductive biology.