• pollination efficiency;
  • visitation frequency;
  • pollinator limitation;
  • pollination crisis;
  • pollinator-mediated selection;
  • tubular flowers;
  • Dianthus carthusianorum


  • • 
    Knowledge of pollination services provided by flower visitors is a prerequisite for understanding (co)evolutionary processes between plants and their pollinators, for evaluating the degree of specialization in the pollination system, and for assessing threats from a potential pollination crisis.
  • • 
    This study examined pollination efficiency and visitation frequency of pollinators – key traits of pollinator-mediated fecundity – in a natural population of the wild carnation Dianthus carthusianorum.
  • • 
    The five lepidopteran pollinator species observed differed in pollination efficiency and visitation frequency. Pollinator importance, the product of pollination efficiency and visitation frequency, was determined by the pollinator's visitation frequency. Pollination of D. carthusianorum depended essentially on only two of the five recorded pollinator species. Seed set was pollen-limited and followed a saturating dose–response function with a threshold of c. 50 deposited pollen grains for fruit development.
  • • 
    Our results confirm that D. carthusianorum is specialized to lepidopteran pollinators, but is not particularly adapted to the two main pollinator species identified. The local persistence of D. carthusianorum is likely to be at risk as its reproduction depends essentially on only two of the locally abundant, but generally vulnerable, butterfly species.