Sphingidae Taxonomic Inventory

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Eye attached hemipollinia in the hawkmoth and settling moth pollination of Habenaria (Orchidaceae): a study on functional morphology in 5 species from subtropical South America

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1997
Authors:R. B. Singer, Cocucci A. A.
Journal:Botanica Acta
Start Page:328
Date Published:1997
Other Numbers:Papyrus 5079

"Morphological adaptations to sphingophily and pollination by moths was studied in 5 South American Habenaria species. For H. gourlieana and H. hieronymi direct evidence of hawkmoth (Agrius cingulatus and Manduca sexta) and settling moth (Rachiplusia nu) pollination, respectively, by hemipollinaria attachment on the eyes, is presented. In two other species (H. paucofilia, H. rupicola) pollination by settling moths and eye attachment of the hemipollinaria can be inferred by indirect evidence (placement of scales and massulae on the flowers) and by flower structure. For the fifth species (H. montevidensis) pollination by small moths or mosquitoes with hemipollinaria attachment on the proboscis is postulated. A comparative study in floral features revealed clear morphological divergence between sphingophilous and phalaenophilous species. In addition to deeper spurs the former have slender, exerted, and upturned petal lobes (acting as mechanical guide to the hovering visitors), a much developed median rostellar lobe (acting as deflecting surface of the hawkmoths towards the viscidia), flexible and sinuous hemipollinarium caudicles (appropriate for frontal strikes against the stigma when hemipollinaria are brought by the hawkmoths dangling against the flower). Male efficiency was compared between 4 species with overlapping flowering time in the same area. Male efficiency factors were unexpectedly low in all species. Only in one species (H. hieronymi) each pollen donation accounted for more than one pollination. H. gourlieana is part of a more or less rich sphingophilous flora interacting with the same two long-tongued hawkmoth species. Interspecific competition for pollen placement on the pollinator's body surface is probably low on account of different pollination mechanisms."

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