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Pollination ecology of Campanula species on Mt Olympos, Greece

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Nine Campanula species occurring along the elevation gradient of Mt Olympos were studied regarding their pollination ecology. The main issues considered were 1) the relative importance of various insect taxa as Campanula pollinators, 2) the patterns of pollinators’ size and activity as a function of altitude, 3) the effect of pollinator exclusion on floral longevity, and 4) the extent to which the morphological difference of C. versicolor from the other Campanula species on Mt Olympos is expressed in its pollinating fauna. The vast majority of Campanula pollinators were solitary bees. Andrenidae and Megachilidae bees (mainly Chelostoma campanulorum) dominated the pollinating fauna of most species. Melittidae and bumblebees were the commonest pollinators of high altitude species. Campanula versicolor differs from the other Campanula species in that its corolla is not bell-shaped but flat. Mainly Apis mellifera, syrphid flies, and carpenter bees, unlike all other Campanula species on Mt Olympos pollinated it. At the species level, rather large altitudinal differences of Campanula populations did not result into large diversification of their pollinating fauna. The insect visitation rate to flowers decreased with altitude. When pollinators were excluded, the floral longevity of the species examined increased three to five times. Neither flower phase (male of female) was consistently favoured in the absence of pollinators. The pollen loads of the different insect taxa (Apis mellifera included) were of variable purity. The majority of Megachilidae bees carried pollen loads of high purity. Pollen loads from insects visiting Campanula species at high altitudes did not differ significantly in their purity from those visiting lowland species. The distribution of Campanula pollinators’ body size along the altitudinal gradient exhibited a U-shaped pattern. No relationship was found between insect-pollinator body size and corolla size of Campanula species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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