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Pollen limitation in a narrow endemic plant: geographical variation and driving factors


Pollen limitation may have important consequences for the reproduction and abundance of plant species. It may be especially harmful to endangered and endemic plants with small populations. In this study, we quantify the effect of pollen limitation on seed production and seedling emergence in an endangered narrow endemic crucifer, Erysimum popovii. We conducted a pollen addition experiment across the entire geographic distribution of the species, and explored the effect of pollinator assemblage, plant population size and density, and other habitat variables on pollen limitation intensity in 13 populations. We supplemented flowers in 20 plants per population with allogamous pollen. To account for potential resource reallocation, we used two types of control untreated flowers: internal control flowers from the same individual as the supplemented flowers, and external control flowers from other individuals. Our results indicate that E. popovii is pollen-limited in most of the populations studied, but only through seed production, since pollen supplementation did not enhance seedling emergence. Beefly abundance was associated with among-population differences in pollen limitation intensity. Populations in which beeflies were more abundant were less pollen-limited. In contrast, the abundance of other flower visitors, such as large bees or butterflies, was not associated with pollen limitation. Annual rainfall and bare soil cover were associated with the intensity of pollen limitation across populations.

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Modesto Berbel, Jesús Muñoz, Juan Lorite, Ángela Cano, Helena Barril, Francisco Perfectti and Mª Belén Herrador helped us during various stages of the research. We also thank the handling editor and two anonymous reviewers for their comments, which helped improve the manuscript. This study was partially funded by MARM (078/2007), Junta de Andalucía (P07-RNM-02869), MICINN (FPU-2006) and Consolider-Ingenio (CSD2008-00040) grants. All experiments complied with the current Spanish laws.

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Correspondence to Juande D. Fernández.

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Communicated by Jeff Karron.

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Fernández, J.D., Bosch, J., Nieto-Ariza, B. et al. Pollen limitation in a narrow endemic plant: geographical variation and driving factors. Oecologia 170, 421–431 (2012).

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  • Beefly
  • Pollination
  • Plant reproductive ecology
  • Erysimum
  • Endangered plant