Epiphyte pollination is constrained by a stressful habitat that limits the amount of resources to be invested in pollinator attraction. Other constraints are the difficulty of locating conspecific individuals in sometimes highly dispersed populations within the canopy and the ephemeral substrate where branch failure may cut short the time available for successful reproduction. The authors conducted pollination experiments on the relationships of breeding systems, pollination success, flowering phenology, and microhabitat preference in epiphytic orchids and bromeliads in a Mexican humid montane forest. Phenology and fruit set also were observed. The breeding systems ranged from dioecious (Catopsis sessiliflora) to largely or entirely self-incompatible and outcrossing (Tillandsia multicaulis, T. punctulata, and Lycaste aromatica) to partly or mainly self-pollinating (T. juncea, Jacquiniella teretifolia, and probably J. leucomelana). Fruit set in the field was highest in the orchid Jacquiniella teretifolia (76–88%) and in the bromeliad Catopsis sessiliflora (71%), both of which grow preferentially on more exposed branches. Ranked next were monocarpic Tillandsia deppeana (60%) and xeric T. juncea (60%). Fruit set was lower in J. leucomelana (29-40%), T. multicaulis (41%), and T. punctulata (25%) and lowest in long-lived L. aromatica (8–11%), plants of which grow mostly on stable branches. The trend for selfing and/or higher fruits sets found in species growing on more ephemeral branches or adapted to more resource-poor conditions suggests that epiphyte pollination reflects adaptations to the diversity of canopy microsites.
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