We know very little about pollination in the Platanthera Rich (Orchidaceae: Orchidoideae)

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Janes, Jasmine K.
van der Voort, Genevieve E.
Huber, Dezene P. W.
The Platanthera Rich. (Orchidoideae) comprise a speciose genus of orchids primarily in the northern hemisphere, with up to 200 known species worldwide. Individual species are known to self-pollinate, but many rely on insect pollinators with characteristics such as floral color, timing of floral odor emissions, nectar rewards, and spur length associated with particular pollination syndromes. As with many orchids, some orchid–pollinator associations are likely highly co-evolved, but we also know that some Platanthera spp. are the result of hybridization events, which implies a lack of pollinator fidelity in some cases. Some Platanthera spp. occur in large numbers which, coupled with the numerous Platanthera–pollinator systems, make them accessible as study species and useful for co-evolutionary studies. Due to the likely effects of climate change and ongoing development on Platanthera spp. habitats, these orchids and their associated pollinators should be a focus of conservation attention and management. However, while there is a fairly substantial literature coverage of Platanthera–pollinator occurrence and interactions, there are still wide gaps in our understanding of the species involved in these systems. In this systematic review, we outline what is current knowledge and provide guidance on further research that will increase our understanding of orchid–insect co-evolutionary relationships. Our review covers 157 orchid species and about 233 pollinator species interacting with 30 Platanthera spp. We provide analyses on aspects of these interactions such as flower morphology, known insect partners of Platanthera species, insect-Platanthera specificity, pollination visitor timing (diurnal vs. nocturnal), floral rewards, and insect behavior affecting pollination outcomes (e.g., pollinia placement). A substantial number of Platanthera spp. and at least a few of their known pollinators are of official (IUCN) conservation concern – and many of their pollinators remain unassessed or even currently unknown – which adds to the urgency of further research on these co-evolved relationships.
This article was originally published as: Janes, J.K., van der Voort, G.E., & Huber, D.P.W. (2024). We know very little about pollination in the Platanthera Rich (Orchidaceae: Orchidoideae). Ecology and Evolution, 14(4). https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.11223
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