Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Pollination of Banksia spp. by non-flying mammals in north-eastern New South Wales

Australian Journal of Botany 49(5) 637 - 644
Published: 2001


Despite the accumulating evidence that non-flying mammals are effective pollinators, further research is required to clarify how widespread this phenomenon is. The role of non-flying mammals as pollinators of four species of Banksia was investigated in north-eastern New South Wales. Nine species of non-flying mammals were captured amongst flowering Banksia and all carried variable amounts of Banksia pollen on their fur or in their faeces. Although not captured, feathertail gliders (Acrobates pygmaeus) were observed foraging at Banksia inflorescences. Squirrel gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis) visiting B. integrifoliaand pale field-rats (Rattus tunneyi) visiting B. ericifolia, carried substantial loads of pollen. Fur pollen loads for these species were of a magnitude similar to those of nectarivorous birds that were sampled closer to the time of foraging. Assessment of newly opened flowers indicated that considerable amounts of pollen were removed at night. The results of a pollinator exclusion experiment were inconclusive but B. ericifolia inflorescences exposed to nocturnal pollinators had consistently high fruit-set. This study lends additional support to the notion that pollination of Banksia by non-flying mammals is widespread.

© CSIRO 2001

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