Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Mammalian pollinators of Mucuna spp. in Asia (#637)

Shun Kobayashi 1 , Tetsuo Denda 1 , Masako Izawa 1
  1. University of the Ryukyus, Nishihara, Okinawa, Japan

Mucuna spp. are vine plants, distributed mainly in the tropics. These plants exhibit explosive opening by which the stamens and pistil are exposed from the petals of the flower during pollination. However, this step is completely dependent on animals (explosive openers). Pollen grains adhere to the explosive opener, thereby making the animal an effective pollinator. The explosive opener obtains nectar as the reward. Although most studies on the pollination system of Mucuna have been conducted in the Neotropics, recent studies have shown explosive openers of some Asian Mucuna species. In this study, we compare the characteristics of explosive openers in Asia and the Neotropics. Only nectar-eating bats are reported as mammalian explosive openers in the Neotropics and specific species of bats pollinate specific plants. Although the flowers of some Asian Mucuna species are opened by specific bat species, the flowers of some others are opened by both bats and non-flying mammals or only by non-flying mammals, depending on the region. The behaviors of the explosive openers also vary between Asia and the Neotropics. All the Asian explosive openers, including bats, used their forelimbs and opened flower by using their snout, except for monkeys. We believe that the ability to hover is one of the factors for determining the opening behavior because Neotropical bats can hover but Asian openers cannot. We will also discuss the differences between Asian and Neotropical explosive openers in relation to differences in the mammalian fauna of the two regions.