Effect of habitat disturbance on pollination biology of the columnar cactus Stenocereus quevedonis at landscape-level in central Mexico


  • Editor
    A. Dafni

A. Casas, Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, UNAM, Campus Morelia. Apartado Postal 27-3 (Santa María de Guido), Morelia Michoacán 58190, Mexico.
E-mail: acasas@oikos.unam.mx


Stenocereus quevedonis (‘pitire’) is a columnar cactus endemic to central Mexico, grown for its edible fruit. Phenology, pollination biology and behaviour of flower visitors of this species were compared in six conserved and disturbed sites, hypothesising that: (i) pitire pollination is self-incompatible, requiring animal vectors; (ii) higher incidence of radiation on plants in cleared forest may lead to a higher number of flowers per pitire plant and longer blooming season, and disturbing and differential spatial availability of flower resources may determine differential attraction of pollinators to conserved and disturbed areas; (iii) if pitire pollination system is specialised, reproductive success would decrease with pollinator scarcity, or other species may substitute for main pollinators. In all sites, pitire reproduction started in January, flowering peak occurring in April, anthesis duration was 15 h and predominantly nocturnal (9 h), pollen was released at 23:00 h, nectar was produced throughout anthesis, and breeding system was self-incompatible. Flower production per plant was similar in disturbed and conserved sites, but flower availability was higher (because of higher tree density) and longer in disturbed sites. Pollination is nocturnal, the most frequent legitimate pollinator being the bat Leptonycteris yerbabuenae; diurnal pollination is rare but possible, carried out by bee species. Fruit and seed set in control and nocturnal pollination treatments at disturbed sites were higher than in conserved sites. Frequency of L. yerbabuenae visits was similar among site types, but more visits of complementary nocturnal and diurnal pollinators were recorded in disturbed sites, which could explain differences in reproductive success.