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Keywords:

  • Elaenia albiceps;
  • Embothrium coccineum;
  • forest edges;
  • hummingbirds;
  • passerine pollination;
  • Sephanoides sephaniodes;
  • territorial defence;
  • tree reproductive ecology

Abstract We investigated the effects of forest patch size on the behaviour of birds feeding on the flower nectar of the proteaceous tree Embothrium coccineum J. R. et G. Forster, which is typically restricted to forest edges in agricultural landscapes in southern Chile. We quantified reproductive parameters of trees (no. inflorescences per branch, total and open flowers per inflorescence) in forest fragments varying from 1 ha (small), to 20 ha (medium) and to >150 ha (large), and in remnant trees in pastures. Visits to flowers by nectar-feeding birds were recorded during 30-min observation periods, spread throughout the day during two flowering seasons, November 1992 and 1993 (n = 242 periods overall). Aggressive encounters among flower visitors were recorded in 1992. We expected less visits to trees in pastures and small forest patches because abundances of Embothrium's main pollinators, the flycatcher Elaenia albiceps and the hummingbird Sephanoides sephaniodes, decreased in smaller patches. We found, however, that pollinator visiting rates were negatively correlated with forest patch area and were highest for pasture trees. This trend was largely due a decline in the number of visits by E. albiceps, the main flower visitor, in larger patches. Hummingbird visits did not change with forest patch size. Lower visitation rates to flowering trees in larger forest fragments seemed to be a consequence of territorial defence by E. albiceps and were unrelated to differences in floral display.