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The understanding of pollination mechanisms is vital for developing management and conservation actions of economically important species. In order to understand the pollination mechanisms of the promising palms in the genus Oenocarpus (Arecaceae), we studied floral morphology and biology, of three sympatric species in the Colombian Amazon: O. bataua , O. balickii and O. minor . During the period 2010-2012 we made direct and continuous observations of inflorescences (visitors, pollinators, and reproductive success) of the three species in every development phase. We determined the association of the palms with their floral visitors through a complex or interaction network, whereas specificity or preference of the insects for each individual palm was assessed through paired similarity analysis, similarity analysis (ANOSIM), and ordering analysis based on non- metric multidimensional scaling (NMSD). The three species flowered throughout the year; their inflorescences have long rachillae that hang close to each other from a short rachis, and they bear flowers in dyads or triads. Inflorescences are protandrous, thermogenic; anthesis takes place during daytime but pollination is nocturnal. We recorded 79 species of insects, mainly beetles, 33 of which visited O. balickii , 63 visited O. bataua , and 33 visited O. minor . Although they shared some visitors, their abundance during the pistillate phase, as well as their pollen loads showed that only a few species of Curculionidae and Nitidulidae are the principal pollinators of the three studied species. Differences in network structure between staminate and pistillate phases, as well as difference in abundance found with the ANOSIM and NMSD similarity tests, suggest a high specificity of pollinators, leading to reproductive isolation among the three species. Because all pollinating beetles were found to develop their life cycles within the inflorescences, we hypothesize the occurrence of a specialized system of mutual dependence between each of this three Oenocarpus species and their pollinators. This specialization assures a year-round availability of the pollinators. Rev. Biol. Trop. 63 (1): 35-55. Epub 2015 March 01.

Palabras clave: Coleoptera, fruitset, mutualism, tropical palms, reproductive biology.
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Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México
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Versión 3.0 | 2017
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