Heliconia-hummingbird interactions in the Lesser Antilles: A geographic mosaic?

One of the most striking examples of plant-pollinator co-adaptation is between the heliconias Heliconia bihai and H. caribaea, and the Lesser Antillean hummingbird - the purple-throated carib Eulampis jugularis. To date, the purple-throated carib is the only reported pollinator of these heliconias on the islands of St. Lucia and Dominica. Here, we show that the pollination of H. bihai and H. caribaea in the Lesser Antilles is more complex than previously hypothesized, locally involving several hummingbird species, specifically the green-throated carib Eulampis holosericeus, rufous-breasted hermit Glands hirsuta, blue-headed hummingbird Cyanophaia bicolor, and the antillean crested hummingbird Orthorhyncus cristatus. Hopefully, our observations will stimulate research into whether H. bihai and H. caribaea show local co-adaptation toward hummingbird pollinators other than the purple-throated carib. This would further verify the co-adaptation hypothesis between heliconias and Lesser Antillean hummingbirds, although, depending on locality, more hummingbird species have to be added as mutualistic partners