DUNG BEETLES AND POLLİNATİON

For some plant species, dung beetles are crucial (and sometimes obligate) pollinators; this is the case for some decay-scented flowers belonging to the plant families Lowiaceae and Araceae (Nichols et al. 2008). One of the first scientific observations of dung beetle dependent pollination of a carrion-scented plant (Typhonium tribolatum, Araceae) by Gleghorn in India was cited in Arrow (1931); the dung beetles involved are Onthophagus tarandus and Caccobius diminituvus. In the Lebanon, it was reported by Gibernau et al. (2004) that the two dung beetles species O. ovatus and O. sellatus pollinate the dung/carrion-scented plant Arum dioscordis (Araceae) and Meeuse and Hatch (1960) observed beetle pollination in the plant genera  Dracunculus and Sauromatum (Araceae). Four different carrion-feeding Onthophagus species (O. waterstradti, O. fujii, O. aurifex, O. vulpes) and two species of Paragymnopleurus (P. pauliani, P. striatus) were also found to be obligate pollinators of Orchidantha inquei, a Bornean carrion-scented member of the highly relictual plant family Lowiaceae (Sakai and Inoue 1999). This flower does not secret any nectar and the visiting beetles do not seem to receive any other reward. The beetles presumably follow the dung-like odour of the flower and then search the flowers for dung. Since the flower does not provide any reward in form of food or protection to the beetles, this form of pollinator attraction has been called “deceit pollination” (Sakai and Inoue 1999). *

Photo: The Dung Beetle Paragymnopleurus pauliani (Scarabaeidae) Visiting the Zygomorphic Flower of Orchidantha inouei (Lowiaceae) **

* : Scholtz, C. H., Davis, A. L. V. and Kryger, U., 2009, Evolutionary Biology and Conservation of Dung Beetles. Pensoft Publisher.

** : Sakai, S., Inoue, T., 1999. A new pollination system: Dung-beetle
pollination discovered in Orchidantha inouei (Lowiaceae, Zingiberales) in Sarawak, Malaysia. American Journal of Botany 86, 56–61.

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