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Keywords:

  • flower predation ;
  • nocturnal pollinators ;
  • pollination syndromes ;
  • Scarabaeidae ;
  • thermogenesis

Taccarum ulei (Araceae, Spathicarpeae) is a seasonal geophytic aroid, native to north-eastern Brazil, that flowers during two months of the rainy season. Patterns of floral thermogenesis, pollination biology, and floral traits associated with pollination syndromes were studied and compared with those of other Araceae. Two species of cyclocephaline scarabs (Scarabaeidae, Cyclocephalini) were recognized as effective pollinators: Cyclocephala celata and Cyclocephala cearae. Larvae of an unidentified species of fruit fly (Melanoloma spp., Richardiidae, Diptera) were also frequently observed in inflorescences at various maturation stages, feeding on the connectives of male florets and fruits, and thus lowering the reproductive success of individual plants. Beetles were attracted by odoriferous inflorescences in the early evening of the first day of anthesis, during the female phase. The emission of attractive volatiles was coupled with intense thermogenic activity in the entire spadix, unlike other aroids in which only certain zones of the spadix heat up. Pollen release, which marks the beginning of the male phase on the subsequent evening, was not related to floral thermogenesis. Comparative multivariate analysis of the floral traits of T. ulei points to a beetle-pollinated aroid, although some of the observed traits of the species are not common to other taxa sharing this pollination strategy. Such incongruence might be explained by the evolutionary history of the tribe Spathicarpeae and potential pollinator shifts. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, ••, ••–••.