Pollination and reproduction of Psychotria homalosperma, an endangered distylous tree endemic to the oceanic Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands, Japan.
Distyly is usually rare or not observed in species thriving on oceanic islands. The rarity of this breeding system is probably because of the difficulty of colonization for distylous plants and the paucity of pollinators on oceanic islands. However, the endemic and endangered tree Psychotria homalosperma has maintained its distylous nature in the oceanic Bonin Islands, Japan. To understand how the distylous breeding system of P. homalosperma has been maintained on these islands and to characterize the reproduction systems, we studied the pollination and reproductive biology of this species. Specifically, we observed current flower visitors and estimated their effects on plant reproduction. We also examined the floral traits and floral volatiles of P. homalosperma to infer its original pollinators, because plant-pollinator relationships in the Bonin Islands have recently been disrupted by anthropological activities. Finally, we examined the fruit set and pollen tube growth in the stigmas under hand and open pollination. Although original pollinators were presumed to be moths with long proboscises, the introduced honeybee, Apis mellifera, was the most common flower visitor. The honeybee carried pollen grains only unidirectionally, from the short- to long-styled morphs, because it could not reach the hidden stigmas of the short-styled flowers, and long-styled flowers set fruits 1.7-38 times more than short-styled ones. This case study indicates that the instability of pollinator fauna can cause distylous species to be rare on oceanic islands.