• anemophily;
  • Barro Colorado Island;
  • dioecious;
  • hermaphroditic;
  • monoecious;
  • Panama;
  • pollen representation;
  • pollination syndrome;
  • tropical rain forest


Three years of pollen trapping data from Barro Colorado Island, Panama, are compared with local vegetation inventories. Two hypotheses relating pollen representation to ‘messy’ pollination and flower form are tested. Dioecious taxa were found to be over-represented in pollen spectra compared with their occurrence in local forests. Similarly, anemophilous and ‘messy’ pollination types were found to be over-represented. While anemophilous taxa were the best dispersed pollen types, zoophilous taxa were also well-represented in dispersal classes of 20–40 m and > 40 m. Thus pollen arriving to lake sediments is most likely to be from anemophilous species or those zoophilous species exhibiting ‘messy’ pollination syndromes. Pollination mechanisms will predictably bias the fossil record against certain flower morphologies. These data are of significance to those using the fossil pollen record to reconstruct the timing and sequence of angiosperm evolution. These data help prioritize plants to be included in modern pollen reference collections and to focus the search for ‘unknown’ types on most-likely candidate families.