The pollination biology of two panicualted Agaves (Agavaceae) from Nortwestern Mexico: contrasting roles of bats as pollinators.

Molina-Freaner, F.
L.E. Eguiarte
Revista y/o libro: 
American Journal of Botany
90: 1016-1024
Paniculate agaves from tropical deserts depend on nectar-feeding bats for their reproduction, while species from extratropical areas near the northern limit of Leptonycteris curasoae are pollinated by diurnal and nocturnal insects and birds. Agave angustifolia is a paniculate agave with a broad distribution in Mexico whose range coincides with the distribution of L. curasoae, while A. subsimplex has a narrow distribution in Sonora within the range of nectar-feeding bats. We studied the pollination biology of A. angustifolia and A. subsimplex in northwestern Mexico to evaluate the relative importance of bat pollination in a region where L. curasoae is seasonal. Flower visitors included a wide variety of animals, with bats having greater visitation rates in A. angustifolia. A pollinator-exclusion experiment revealed that bats were responsible for most of the control fruit set in A. angustifolia, whereas for A. subsimplex, diurnal and nocturnal visitors were equally effective. Overall, our data indicate that in central Sonora, A. angustifolia depends on nectar-feeding bats for its sexual reproductive success, while A. subsimplex relies on both diurnal and nocturnal pollinators. Given the contrasting distribution ranges of paniculate agaves, our results seem to support the trend from specialization to generalization along the continuum of tropical to extratropical deserts.