Pollinators of Bertholletia excelsa (Lecythidales: Lecythidaceae): interactions with stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) and trophic niche

This paper presents an analysis of the foraging behavior and interactions of Xylocopa frontalis Olivier (Apidae: Xylocopini) and Eulaema mocsaryi (Friese) (Apidae: Euglossini) in the presence of stingless bees (Apidae: Meliponini) in flowers of Bertholletia excelsa, the Brazilian nut. The palynological load carried by both species was also examined. This study was conducted in the farm Aruanã, Itacoatiara/ Amazonas state, Brazil, during the flowering peak of B. excelsa. The visitation by the main pollinators X. frontalis and E. mocsaryi were influenced by the presence and activities of stingless bees in the flowers of B. excelsa. Meliponini bees did not have any effect on the visits and collection of floral resources by X. frontalis, while negatively affecting the number of visits by E. mocsaryi. The stingless bees presented a variety of strategies to get access to pollen grains of B. excelsa, grouped into two categories: opportunism -Frieseomelitta trichocerata Moure, Tetragona goettei (Friese), and Tetragona kaieteurensis (Schwarz), and stealing -Trigona branneri Cockerell, Trigona fuscipennis Friese, and Trigona guianae Cockerell. The palynological analysis from X. frontalis showed that the bee collected pollen in a few species of plants, but mainly on B. excelsa. The pollen grains of B. excelsa were poorly represented in the pollen shipments of E. mocsaryi, due to its large trophic niche in the locality.

Foraging strategy; interspecific relation; pollen stealing; Central Amazonia; Brazil

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