The effects of fire on pollination haven’t been explored in sexually deceptive systems. Sexually deceptive plants achieve pollination by mimicking the sex pheromone of female insects in order to attract male insects. These systems are highly specialised, with the orchid often being pollinated by a single insect species.
In our new paper, we observed the frequency of pollinator visits to flowers of a sexually deceptive orchid, Caladenia tentaculata, and related it to the post-fire age class of heathy woodland in south-western Victoria.
We also related the number of the pollinator’s putative larval hosts (scarab beetles) captured at these sites to age class. At the local scale, visitation was highest in recently burnt sites. At the landscape scale, positive associations were observed between (1) putative pollinator hosts and vegetation burnt 36–50 years ago, and (2) pollinator visitation and vegetation burnt more than 50 years ago. Local- and landscape-scale effects on visitation were synergistic, such that visitation was greatest when fire age was variable within the pollinator foraging range.
Brown, J., York, A. & Christie, F. (2016). Fire effects on pollination in a sexually-deceptive orchid. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 25: 888-895.
Fire Ecology and Biodiversity at UniMelb
Bushfire Behaviour and Management at UniMelb
Quantitative & Applied Ecology Group at UniMelb
Integrated Forest Ecosystem Research at UniMelb