Improving conservation and translocation success of an endangered orchid, Caladenia xanthochila (Orchidaceae), through understanding pollination

Reiter, Noushka, Wicks, Mike, Pollard, Gail, Brown, Graham, Menz, Myles, and Bohman, Björn (2023) Improving conservation and translocation success of an endangered orchid, Caladenia xanthochila (Orchidaceae), through understanding pollination. Plant Ecology, 224 (8). pp. 715-727.

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Critical for conserving endangered orchids is identifying their pollinators and their distribution. Caladenia xanthochila is an endangered orchid that has floral traits characteristic of pollination by food foraging insects. We identified the pollinator(s), mechanisms of attraction and the presence of pollinators at natural, existing and potential translocation sites. Furthermore, we quantified pollination success at translocation sites and investigated the effect of rainfall on pollination success over 19 years at a natural site. We clarify if sharing of pollinators occurs with closely related species by comparing the CO1 barcoding region of the pollinators' DNA. Caladenia xanthochila was pollinated by a single species of thynnine wasp, Phymatothynnus aff. nitidus. Caladenia xanthochila produced 27.0 µg ± 7.1 sucrose on the labellum, while pollinators vigorously copulated with glandular clubs on the sepal tips, suggestive of a mixed pollination system. Pollination success of C. xanthochila was 7.6 ± 1.5% SE at the natural site and 16.1 ± 3.6% SE across the translocation sites. Furthermore, hand pollinations demonstrated that pollination was pollen limited. Pollination success was significantly related to average rainfall during the growth phase of the orchid (P < 0.001). Potential translocation sites for C. xanthochila were limited, with four of six surveyed lacking the pollinator. We found evidence for cryptic species of Phymatothynnus, with C. xanthochila pollinators being unique amongst the orchids studied. We recommend hand pollinations at translocated and remnant wild populations to boost initial recruitment. The evidence for cryptic species of pollinators further highlights the need for accurate identification of pollinators.

Item ID: 79473
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-5052
Keywords: Caladenia, Conservation, Cryptic species, Nectar, Orchidaceae, Pollination, Translocation
Copyright Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC LP200200264
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2023 23:54
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 60%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410204 Ecosystem services (incl. pollination) @ 20%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310308 Terrestrial ecology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180604 Rehabilitation or conservation of terrestrial environments @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity @ 50%
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