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Acta Botanica Brasilica
Print version ISSN 0102-3306
MARUYAMA, Pietro Kiyoshi; CUSTODIO, Luciana Nascimento and OLIVEIRA, Paulo Eugênio. When hummingbirds are the thieves: visitation effect on the reproduction of Neotropical snowbell Styrax ferrugineus Nees & Mart (Styracaceae). Acta Bot. Bras. [online]. 2012, vol.26, n.1, pp.58-64. ISSN 0102-3306. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-33062012000100007.
The spectrum of floral visitors associated with a particular plant is frequently larger than predicted by the traditional concept of floral syndromes and the role that unpredicted visitors play in plant reproduction deserves attention. Hummingbirds are frequently recorded visiting flowers with distinct floral syndromes, especially in some hummingbird flower poor ecosystem such as the Cerrado. In this study we investigated the effect of frequent hummingbird visits on the reproduction of melittophilous Styrax ferrugineus. The flowers were visited by many different insect groups and visits by hummingbirds were frequent, especially early in the morning when nectar availability was higher. Nectar parameters varied considerably during the flower life span, and was probably affected by the temperature variation during the day. Hummingbird exclusion experiments showed no effect in the fruit-set of the plant. The inability of hummingbirds to deplete all of the nectar produced in this mass-flowering plant, and the existence of another resource (pollen) for the primary pollinator (large bees), are possible reasons why there was no perceptible hindrance of plant reproduction by the hummingbirds. Although no effect in the fruit-set was observed, the use of non-ornithophilous flowers must be important for hummingbirds, which are specialized nectar consumers.
Keywords : Cerrado; nectar dynamics; nectar thieves; pollination syndromes.