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Abundance and diversity of flower visitors on wild and cultivated cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) in Bolivia


Chumacero de Schawe, Claudia; Kessler, Michael; Hensen, Isabell; Tscharntke, Teja (2016). Abundance and diversity of flower visitors on wild and cultivated cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) in Bolivia. Agroforestry Systems:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Despite the economic importance of Theobroma cacao, surprisingly little is known about its pollination ecology. Ceratopogonid midges are considered to be the main pollinators, but the limited available evidence on the sexual reproduction is based almost exclusively on cultivated cacao and knowledge is nonexistent for wild populations. We documented flower visitors in wild and cultivated plants by applying glue on 2237 flowers of wild and cultivated cacao trees in Bolivia to trap floral visitors. We caught 631 insects belonging to seven orders, corresponding to a mean capture rate of 0.3 insects per flower. The most abundant and diverse insect order on both cacao types was Hymenoptera, represented mainly by small parasitoids. Hymenoptera were more abundant on wild cacao, whereas species richness was higher on cultivated cacao. The abundance and species richness of Diptera were not significantly different between wild and cultivated cacao. However, species composition and proportion of Diptera species differed between both wild and cultivated cacao. Ceratopogonidae were only represented by 13 individuals belonging to seven species. Cacao pollen was carried by only a single specimen of Encyrtidae. We were thus unable to identify actual pollinators. We found significant differences among the visitor assemblages between wild and cultivated cacao, which suggest that midges alone were probably too rare to act as main or even sole pollinators of cacao in our study region. Potential additional pollinators would be small Diptera (e.g., Chloropidae and Phoridae) and Hymenoptera (e.g., Eulophidae and Platygastridae).

Abstract

Despite the economic importance of Theobroma cacao, surprisingly little is known about its pollination ecology. Ceratopogonid midges are considered to be the main pollinators, but the limited available evidence on the sexual reproduction is based almost exclusively on cultivated cacao and knowledge is nonexistent for wild populations. We documented flower visitors in wild and cultivated plants by applying glue on 2237 flowers of wild and cultivated cacao trees in Bolivia to trap floral visitors. We caught 631 insects belonging to seven orders, corresponding to a mean capture rate of 0.3 insects per flower. The most abundant and diverse insect order on both cacao types was Hymenoptera, represented mainly by small parasitoids. Hymenoptera were more abundant on wild cacao, whereas species richness was higher on cultivated cacao. The abundance and species richness of Diptera were not significantly different between wild and cultivated cacao. However, species composition and proportion of Diptera species differed between both wild and cultivated cacao. Ceratopogonidae were only represented by 13 individuals belonging to seven species. Cacao pollen was carried by only a single specimen of Encyrtidae. We were thus unable to identify actual pollinators. We found significant differences among the visitor assemblages between wild and cultivated cacao, which suggest that midges alone were probably too rare to act as main or even sole pollinators of cacao in our study region. Potential additional pollinators would be small Diptera (e.g., Chloropidae and Phoridae) and Hymenoptera (e.g., Eulophidae and Platygastridae).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:10 Oct 2016 13:39
Last Modified:12 Jan 2017 12:54
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0167-4366
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-016-0019-8

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