Effectiveness of native nectar-feeding birds and the introduced Apis mellifera as pollinators of the kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos manglesii (Haemodoraceae) Academic Article uri icon


  • Plants pollinated by vertebrates are often visited by native and exotic insects foraging for pollen and nectar. We compared flower visitation rates, foraging behaviour, and the contribution to reproduction of nectar-feeding birds and the introduced honeybee Apis mellifera in four populations of the bird-pollinated Anigozanthos manglesii (Haemodoraceae). The behaviour of floral visitors was quantified with direct observations and motion-triggered and hand-held cameras. Pollinator access to flowers was manipulated by enclosure in netting to either exclude all visitors or to exclude vertebrate visitors only. Apis mellifera was the only insect observed visiting flowers, and the most frequent flower visitor, but primarily acted as a pollen thief. Although birds visited A. manglesii plants only once per week on average, they were 3.5 times more likely to contact the anther or stigma as foraging honeybees. Exclusion of birds resulted in 67% fewer fruits and 81% fewer seeds than flowers left open and unmanipulated. Unnetted flowers that were open to bird and insect pollinators showed pollen-limitation and a large variation in reproductive output within and between sites. Although honeybees have been shown to pollinate other Australian plants, compared to birds, they are highly inefficient pollinators of A. manglesii.

publication date

  • 2020