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|Web of Science®
|Grazing orchids: impact of florivory on two species of Caladenia (Orchidaceae)
|Australian Journal of Botany, 2009; 57(4):361-372
|C S I R O Publishing
|Renate Faast and José M. Facelli
|Herbivory is considered a major threat in many of the orchid-species recovery plans in Australia. Kangaroos and rabbits are the most commonly implicated herbivores; however, no studies have attempted to confirm their role. Regular monitoring of several populations of Caladenia rigida R.S.Rogers and C. tentaculata Schldl. during 3 years in the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia, revealed that up to 94% of flowers and 36% of seed capsules were browsed, whereas leaf herbivory was less prevalent. Furthermore, patterns of herbivory varied markedly among sites and across years. In two seasons, predation of C. rigida flowers inside a kangaroo- and rabbit-proof exclosure was equal to or higher than outside the exclosure. Florivory within populations was influenced by proximity to the habitat edge, although the direction of this response differed among sites. Various types of mesh cages were erected around plants to elucidate the size and type of herbivores. Plants protected from florivores were almost three times more likely to produce seed than were exposed plants; however, some cage types reduced pollination. Video surveillance confirmed the role of the white-winged chough, Corcorax melanorhamphos, as a florivore. The present study is the first one to identify a herbivore unequivocally, quantify the intensity and extent of floral herbivory across a range of populations, and assess the potential cost of florivory to the direct reproductive output of orchids.
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Earth and Environmental Sciences publications
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