Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences

Major Professor

Jerome Howard

Second Advisor

Charles Bell

Third Advisor

Philip DeVries


Understanding the ecology of invasive species is vital to curb the homogenizing of ecosystems, yet the pollination mechanisms of the Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera) in its introduced habitat remain ambiguous. This study examines self-pollination, wind pollination, and flower-visiting insects of tallow in a bottomland hardwood forest and Longleaf pine savannah in the U.S. Gulf South. These data suggest that self-pollination and airborne pollination are possible, but likely rare occurrences, although the possibility of apoxisis was not investigated. Seed production in exclusion experiments was significantly less than in open-pollinated flowers, and wind dispersal of tallow pollen dropped to essentially zero 8 meters from the source. Results show that tallow is primarily bee pollinated, with external pollen loads of Apis, Melissodes, and halictids visiting at similar rates, and Xylocopa species visiting less frequently. The researchers believe that to date, this is the first study of the pollination mechanisms of T. sebifera in its introduced range and recommend further study to understand the ecology of this destructive invasive species.


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