Flower visitors and pollination in the Oriental (Indomalayan) Region

Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc. 2004 Aug;79(3):497-532. doi: 10.1017/s1464793103006341.


Current knowledge of flower visitors and pollination in the Oriental Region is summarised. Much less is known about pollination than seed dispersal and the coverage of habitats and taxa in the region is very uneven. The available evidence suggests that pollination in lowland forests is dominated by highly social bees (mainly Trigona and Apis species), with beetles probably the next most important group, followed by other bees and flies. In comparison with the better-studied Neotropics, large solitary bees, moths, Lepidoptera and vertebrates are relatively less important. These differences are greatest in the canopy of the lowland dipterocarp forests of Southeast Asia, where they probably reflect the unique temporal pattern of floral resource availability resulting from 'general flowering' at supra-annual intervals. Apis bees (but not Trigona species) are also important in most montane, subtropical and non-forest habitats. Apart from the figs (Ficus spp.), there are few well-documented examples of plant species visited by a single potential pollinator and most plant-pollinator relationships in the region appear to be relatively generalised. The small sizes of most pollinators and the absence of direct human exploitation probably make pollination mutualisms less vulnerable to failure as a result of human impacts than dispersal mutualisms, but more subtle impacts, as a result of altered gene flows, are likely to be widespread. On current evidence, pollination systems in the Oriental Region do not require any specific conservation action, but this review reinforces arguments for making the preservation (or restoration) of habitat connectivity the major focus of Oriental conservation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asia
  • Bees / physiology*
  • Ecosystem
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plants
  • Pollen / physiology*
  • Reproduction
  • Vertebrates / physiology*
  • Wind