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Pollination by Birds

Pollination by Birds

A Functional Evaluation

(p.73) Chapter Four Pollination by Birds
Why Birds Matter
Sandra H. AndersonDave KellyAlastair W. RobertsonJenny J. Ladley
University of Chicago Press

Avian pollination is thought to be less prevalent and less at risk than avian seed-dispersal. The extent of recently revealed bird pollination that does not conform to the classic ornithophily-nectarivore template suggests this mutualism may be cryptic and more prevalent than considered to date. Widespread anthropogenic disturbance has disproportionately impacted the connections between birds and flowers, so that bird pollination may be systematically under-reported. Evidence suggests that where plants are visited by more than one pollinator guild, the relative effectiveness of birds is high compared to invertebrates. In the absence of replacement, the loss of bird pollinators has resulted in pollination failure, increased inbreeding depression, and decreased plant density. Confirmation of seed limitation in pollen-limited plants serviced by birds provides a precautionary sign of the possible long term effects of bird pollinator loss. The quality of pollination service provided by birds has important consequences for gene flow and offspring survival. Pollen limitation experiments suggest that bird-pollinated plants in New Zealand, the Americas, Southeast Asia, and Africa suffer similar levels of pollen limitation, and are typically more strongly pollen-limited than insect-pollinated plants. Thus, bird-pollination appears to be under-reported, hard to replace and at greater risk of failure than currently assumed.

Keywords:   avian pollination, gene flow, inbreeding depression, pollen limitation, pollination, seed limitation

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