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University of KwaZulu-Natal (2019)

The breeding system and demography of the Transvaal Sesame-bush, Sesamothamnus lugardii (Pedaliaceae)

Bijl, Alison.

Titre : The breeding system and demography of the Transvaal Sesame-bush, Sesamothamnus lugardii (Pedaliaceae)

Auteur : Bijl, Alison.

Université de soutenance : University of KwaZulu-Natal

Grade : Master of Science In Ecological Sciences 2019

Résumé partiel
The aim of this research was to assess the breeding system, pollination relationship and demography of the Transvaal Sesame-bush, Sesamothamnus lugardii N. E. Br. Ex Stapf. (Pedaliaceae). S. lugardii is an arid savanna succulent shrub which can be found throughout Zimbabwe, southern Botswana and in northern South Africa, where it is anecdotally thought to be rare. Two populations of S. lugardii were assessed in Limpopo, South Africa. The floral traits of S. lugardii suggest that it is specialised for pollination by long-tongued hawkmoths. The flowers bloom in the evening, are large, sweetly scented and pale in colour. The corolla tubes are very long (ca. 10 cm) and narrow. Very long-tongued hawkmoths (Agrius convolvuli) were found to be the only visitors capable of accessing the nectar at the base of the S. lugardii corolla tubes while foraging and simultaneously interacting with the reproductive structures, successfully pollinating the flowers. S. lugardii is an obligate outcrosser, dependent on A. convolvuli hawkmoths for sexual reproduction. The high-risk traits of the S. lugardii breeding system, namely pollinator specialisation and obligate out-crossing, could render S. lugardii vulnerable to extinction. Predation of flowers by scarab beetles in the study population at Mapungubwe National Park resulted in low fruit set. At Morongwa Private Safari Lodge florivory was negligible and fruit set was higher. In both study populations, S lugardii was dominant in patches across the landscape, but only a small proportion of the numerous plants observed were seedlings. Little is known about the population dynamics of S. lugardii, but the absence of seedlings suggests a potentially vulnerable demography.

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