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1 July 2009 Early autonomous selfing in the hummingbird-pollinated epiphyte Pitcairnia brittoniana (Bromeliaceae)
Stephen P. Bush, Jade E. Guilbeau
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Hummingbirds are important pollinators in Monteverde, Costa Rica, as they are in most neotropical montane cloud forests. In Monteverde, hummingbird-pollinated plants are generally pollen-limited and incapable of autonomous self-pollination. However, many hummingbird-pollinated plants in the Bromeliaceae are capable of autonomous self-pollination. We examined the breeding system and pollination of Pitcairnia brittoniana (Mez), shown previously to be capable of autonomous selfing. We found that fruit and seed set were high in open-, self-, and cross-pollinated treatments, as well as in the autonomous self-pollination treatment. Seed set, but not fruit set was slightly lower among pollinator-excluded flowers from which the anthers or stigma were removed at dawn, the time at which flowers are first receptive to cross-pollination, relative to controls whose anthers and stigmas were unmanipulated. Flowers were visited by two hummingbird species that deposited cumulative cross-pollen loads sufficient for near maximum seed set. Therefore, P. brittoniana has the potential for high levels of either outcrossing or inbreeding in Monteverde. Although the relative competitive abilities of self- and cross-pollen in P. brittoniana are unknown, cross-pollen prepotency is probable. Pitcairnia brittoniana likely maintains a mixed mating system, outcrossing when hummingbirds are active and selfing autonomously when they are scarce.

Stephen P. Bush and Jade E. Guilbeau "Early autonomous selfing in the hummingbird-pollinated epiphyte Pitcairnia brittoniana (Bromeliaceae)," The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 136(3), 313-321, (1 July 2009).
Received: 12 December 2008; Published: 1 July 2009

autonomous self-pollination
hummingbird pollination
tropical cloud forest
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