Wind to insect pollination ratios and floral traits in five alpine Salix species
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This study examines the ratio of wind to insect pollination of five alpine-arctic Salix species and possible correlations between plant traits and this ratio. The field work was done in an alpine area in southwest Norway, at an elevation of 1250 m. Female catkins were enclosed within mesh cloth to prevent insect visitation, and their fruit set was determined and compared with that of open-pollinated control catkins. Simultaneously, pollen production per anther, pollen dispersal, standing crop of nectar, flower length, number of flowers per catkin, and catkin length were measured. The amount of wind pollination of the species varied from 2 to 52%. All species spread pollen in the air. Nectar content, catkin length, flower number, and flower length showed a negative relationship with the percentage of wind pollination. Significant negative linear correlations between female catkin length and flower length and amount of wind pollination were detected. Pollen production per anther did not show any relationship to the pollination system. We suggest that the evolution to insect pollination in alpine Salix species may have resulted in a lengthening of anthers and pistils, and an increase in nectar production.