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Flower visitation by birds in Europe

AuthorsSilva, Luis Pascual da; Ramos, Jaime A.; Olesen, Jens M.; Traveset, Anna ; Heleno, Rubén H.
Issue Date13-May-2014
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationOikos 123(11): 1377-1383 (2014)
Abstract© 2014 The Authors. Most flowering plants depend on animal pollination. Several animal groups, including many birds, have specialized in exploiting floral nectar, while simultaneously pollinating the flowers they visit. These specialized pollinators are present in all continents except Europe and Antarctica, and thus, insects are often considered the only ecologically relevant pollinators in Europe. Nevertheless, generalist birds are also known to visit flowers, and several reports of flower visitation by birds in this continent prompted us to review available information in order to estimate its prevalence. We retrieved reports of flower-bird interactions from 62 publications. Forty-six bird species visited the flowers of 95 plant species, 26 of these being exotic to Europe, yielding a total of 243 specific interactions. The ecological importance of bird-flower visitation in Europe is still unknown, particularly in terms of plant reproductive output, but effective pollination has been confirmed for several native and exotic plant species. We suggest nectar and pollen to be important food resources for several bird species, especially tits Cyanistes and Sylvia and Phylloscopus warblers during winter and spring. The prevalence of bird flower-visitation, and thus potential bird pollination, is slightly more common in the Mediterranean basin, which is a stopover to many migrant bird species, which might actually increase their effectiveness as pollinators by promoting long-distance pollen flow. We argue that research on bird pollination in Europe deserves further attention to explore its ecological and evolutionary relevance.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/oik.01347
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/oik.01347
issn: 1600-0706
Appears in Collections:(IMEDEA) Artículos
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