Honey bees ensure the pollination of Parkia biglobosa in absence of bats
One of the socio-economically important West African parkland trees, Parkia biglobosa yields pods consumed by people and animals. Being animal-pollinated, it is unknown how climate change will affect the species if the guild of pollinators changes. Here, we compare the pollinator guilds and the pod production at two climatically different study sites: the first site, Tiba was drier with lower tree density and fewer fruit bats, whereas the second site, Pinyiri was more humid, with higher tree density and more fruit bats. We carried out a pollinator exclusion trial with bags separating the flower-visitors and made observations of the flower-visitors. Furthermore, we calculated pollination distances based on paternity analysis of the seeds produced within the trial. The numbers of immature fruits were similar for the sites, but the drier site, Tiba experienced more abortion and decreased pod set. At both sites, exclusion of bats led to marginally reduced pod set, while exclusion of bats and honey bees led to significantly reduced pod set. We found a small effect of stingless bees and solitary bees but only at the more humid site, Pinyiri. Tiba experienced a higher level of self-pollination, fewer pollen donors per tree, and longer median distances of pollen flow, compared with Pinyiri. Implications of the results for management of the species and its pollinators in the face of climate change are discussed.
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