Pollination and Florivory by Insects Visiting the Flowers of Lepidium Papilliferum (Brassicaceae)

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Biology



Major Advisor

Ian C. Robertson


Many flowers are pollinated by insects. Determining which insect visitors are important to plant pollination is a necessary step to understanding the reproductive biology of insect-pollinated plants. My study examines insect visitors to Lepidium papilliferum (Brassicaceae), a rare plant endemic to sagebrush-steppe habitat in southwest Idaho. Lepidium papilliferum plants are visited by over 25 different insect families. I recorded relative abundance, foraging rate, and fruit set per visit rate for each insect visitor. These data were used to determine which insects contributed to L. papilliferum reproduction, and which did not. I found that many different insects played a role in L. papilliferum pollination including Apidae, Halictidae, Sphecidae and Vespidae (all Hymenoptera), Bombyliidae, Calliphoridae, and Tachinidae (all Diptera), Gelechiidae (Lepidoptera) and Melyridae (Coleoptera). Thus, no single insect family should be considered the primary pollinator of this plant. Moreover, the contribution to pollination made by various insect families varied between years and study sites. These results indicate that L. papillijerum follows a generalist reproductive strategy.

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