Pollination, Herbivory, and Habitat Fragmentation: Their Effects on the Reproductive Fitness of Angadenia berteroi, a Native Perennial Plant of the South Florida Pine Rocklands

Beyte Barrios Roque, Florida International University

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Angadenia berteroi is a tropical perennial subshrub of the pine rocklands with large yellow flowers that set very few fruits. My dissertation seeks to elucidate the factors that affect the reproductive fitness of Angadenia berteroi a native species of the south Florida pine rocklands. I provide novel information on the pollination biology of this native species. I also assess the effects of herbivory on growth and the reproductive success of A. berteroi. Finally, I elucidate how habitat fragmentation and quality are correlated with reproductive fitness of this native perennial plant.

Using a novel experimental approach, I determined the most effective pollinator group. I used nylon fishing line of widths corresponding to proboscis diameter of the major groups of visitors to examine pollen removal and deposition. In the field, I estimated visitation frequency and efficacy of each pollinator type. Using potted plants, I exposed flowers to single visit from different types of pollinators to measure fruit set. I performed artificial defoliation with scissors on plants growing in the greenhouse to assess the effects of defoliation before flowering as well as during flowering. Additionally, I used structural equation modelling (SEM) to elucidate how A. berteroi reproductive fitness was affected by habitat fragmentation and quality.

My experiments provide evidence that Angadenia berteroi is specialized for bee pollination; though butterflies, skippers and others also visit its flowers, A. berteroi is exclusively pollinated by two native bees of the South Florida pine rocklands . This research also demonstrated that herbivory by the oleander moth may have direct and indirect effects on Angadenia berteroi growth and reproductive success. The SEM results suggested that habitat quality (litter depth and subcanopy cover) may favor reproduction in native species of the South Florida pine rocklands that are properly maintained by periodic fires and exotic control. Insights from this threatened and charismatic species may provide impetus to properly manage remaining pine rocklands in South Florida for this and other endemic understory species.