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Monophily and pollination mechanisms in Angraecum arachnites Schltr. (Orchidaceae) in a guild of long-tongued hawk-moths (Sphingidae) in Madagascar

Nilsson, LA.; Jonsson, L.; Rason, L.; Randrianjohany, E.

Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 261: 1-19

1985


ISSN/ISBN: 0024-4066
DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.1985.tb01549.x
Accession: 016413945

Anthecological relations between a long-spurred angraecoid orchid and pollinating Sphingidae are documented for the first time. In a primary forest on the Central Plateau of Madagascar Angraecum arachnites Schltr. was found to be pollinated by and adapted to a single species of hawk-moth, Panogena lingens (Butler), despite abundance of many concurrent Sphingidae of which several were also long-tongued. Furthermore, P. lingens was dimorphic in the length and breadth of its proboscis and only the morph with the longest and most slender proboscis was recorded to pollinate A. arachnites. Exclusive and precise adaptation to the latter morph of P. lingens existed in floral morphology and probably in other characteristics such as flowering phenology and chemical signalling. Several concurrently flowering orchid species were sharing P. lingens as a pollinator resource. The monophily in A. arachnites is interpreted as a result of a refined long-term specialization developed within an archaic evolutionary relationship in a relatively stable environment. The extraordinary number and diversity of long-spurred Orchidaceae in Madagascar appears to be a direct coevolutionary consequence of an Old-World-unique diversity of long-tongued archaic Sphingidae that has persisted in this isolated land.

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