Pollination biology in the Snowy Mountains of Australia: Comparisons with montane Colorado, USA


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Various aspects of the pollination biology of the alpine flora of Kosciusko National Park, NSW, were examined from late December 1983 until the end of March 1984, including flowering phenology, corolla tube lengths, flower colour, ultraviolet reflectance patterns, visitation rates to the flowers and proboscis lengths of the flower‐visiting insects. An average of 5.3 species flowered in each of 13, 2 m×2 m montane plots and 5.6 species in the 13 alpine plots. The maximum number in flower simultaneously averaged 4.1 species in the montane and 3.3 in the alpine plots; flowering peaked in mid‐January, Corolla tube lengths of the flora averaged 1.73 mm. The most common floral colour was white or predominantly white (40 species), followed by yellow (14 species). Only six of the 38 species (16%) examined had some type of reflectance pattern; the remaining species all absobed ultraviolet. Flies appeared to be the major pollinators. The insects collected in the study area comprised 60 species of Diptera, 33 species of Hymenoptera, and several species each of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera. On average, 14.4% of flowers watched during 379 observation periods (10 min each) were visited. On average, each plant species was visited by 6.4 species of flies, 2.4 species of bees, wasps or sawflies, one species of butterfly or moth and 0.3 species of beetles. Visitation rates increased over the growing season, and were significantly affected by ambient temperature (positively), light levels (positively) and wind speed (negatively). The maximum proboscis length for the 25 most common species of bees was 2.76 mm, but 18 of 51 species of flies had proboscis lengths longer than this. The mean proboscis length for all 25 species of bees was 1.68 mm, and for 51 species of flies was 2.31 mm. Proboscis lengths for flies were positively correlated with the average corolla length for the plant species they visited. For bees, however, the range in proboscis lengths was relatively small and did not show this pattern. There appear to be significant differences between the plant‐pollinator community of alpine Australia and other alpine areas where bumblebees are common pollinators. These differences include shorter proboscis and corolla tube lengths, and perhaps an increased diversity and significance of flies as pollinators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Journal of Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Pollination biology in the Snowy Mountains of Australia: Comparisons with montane Colorado, USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this