Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Examining the role of buzzing time and acoustics on pollen extraction of Solanum elaeagnifolium.

Abstract

Buzz pollination is a specialized pollination syndrome that requires vibrational energy to extract concealed pollen grains from poricidal anthers. Although a large body of work has examined the ecology of buzz pollination, whether acoustic properties of buzz pollinators affect pollen extraction is less understood, especially in weeds and invasive species. We examined the pollination biology of Silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), a worldwide invasive weed, in its native range in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) in south Texas. Over two years, we documented the floral visitors on S. elaeagnifolium, their acoustic parameters (buzzing amplitude, frequency, and duration of buzzing) and estimated the effects of the latter two factors on pollen extraction. We found five major bee genera: Exomalopsis, Halictus, Megachile, Bombus, and Xylocopa, as the most common floral visitors on S. elaeagnifolium in the LRGV. Bee genera varied in their duration of total buzzing time, duration of each visit, and mass. While we did not find any significant differences in buzzing frequency among different genera, an artificial pollen collection experiment using an electric toothbrush showed that the amount of pollen extracted is significantly affected by the duration of buzzing. We conclude that regardless of buzzing frequency, buzzing duration is the most critical factor in pollen removal in this species.