This has been such a fun project! Thanks to José Valverde, whom I had the pleasure to co-advise during his licenciate thesis at Universidad de Costa Rica, we now know the pollinators of Meriania macrophylla! This species is special because its flowers share traits of typical buzz-bee- and passerine-pollinated Merianieae, and it hence falls “in between” two pollination syndromes. When I first saw flowers of this species, I was unsure as to whether bees or passerines would visit it – and hoped for a rare transition state… José spent more than a year looking for this species in flower, carefully searching all known populations in Costa Rica, until he finally found some flowering individuals in the cloud forests close to the capital city San José! José could prove what our Random Forst models had predicted: M. macrophylla is indeed pollinated by passerines, and shares the same specialized bellows-like pollen expulsion mechanism and food bodies with Axinaea, another genus within the tribe Merianieae. In contrast to Axinaea, however, passerines ignore one stamen type completely in M. macrophylla, and only consume the big, showy stamens. Congrats, José, to this beautiful piece of natural history!
- The role of geographical, phenological and ethological isolation in maintaining species boundaries in Rhexia
- Systematics, Evolution and Ecology of Melastomataceae
- The predictive power of pollination syndromes
- CU Boulder – a new (scientific) adventure!
- Another student joining the lab! Welcome José Miguel Valverde-Espinoza!