Tropical Biology Section
Magnaghi, Emily B. , Daniel, Thomas F. .
Floral Ecology of Mendoncia cowanii (Acanthaceae: Thunbergioideae) in Madagascar.
Mendoncia is one of five genera in the subfamily Thunbergioideae of Acanthaceae. Species of the genus consist of woody vines that occur in both Neotropical and Paleotropical wet forests. Mendoncia is unique within the family due to its drupaceous fruit, well-developed bracteoles, and climbing habit. Little is known about the ecology of these plants, including basic components of pollination and dispersal. During field work in Madagascar, several aspects of floral ecology were studied/observed: flowering time and duration, floral visitation, nectar quantity and quality (e.g., sucrose content), and bracteolar fluid quantity and quality. Flowers open prior to dawn and generally persist for about 10 hours. Floral attractants include: dark pink coloration, abundant nectar, and pollen. The associated bracteoles are turgid with copious fluid, which generally persists around the corolla tube until the flower withers or falls. Flowers are visited by a diverse assemblage of animals including: passerine birds, lepidopterans, bees, ants, and hover flies. The ecological roles of Mendoncia in its tropical rain forest habitat remain poorly understood. As large vines with relatively profuse quantities of floral nectar, fluid-rich bracteoles, fleshy fruits, and edible leaves, the plants undoubtedly provide important dietary components for various organisms. Previous studies have documented the use of fruits and leaves by lemurs. Our studies reveal that flowers and associated bracteoles also provide dietary components for several other groups of organisms. In a biodiversity hotspot like Madagascar, with high levels of endemicity (e.g., all three species of Mendoncia on the island are endemic there) and habitat destruction, it is important to identify and understand plant-animal relationships as an aid to conservation planning.
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1 - California Academy of Sciences, Department of Botany, 875 Howard Street, San Francisco, CA, 94103, United States
2 - California Academy of Sciences, Department of Botany, 875 Howard Street, San Francisco, California, 94103-3009, USA
Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Location: Exhibit Hall (Northeast, Southwest & Southeast)/Hilton
Date: Sunday, July 8th, 2007
Time: 8:00 AM