Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 1389–1409 | Cite as

Pollination insights for the conservation of a rare threatened plant species, Astragalus tragacantha (Fabaceae)

  • L. SchurrEmail author
  • L. Affre
  • F. Flacher
  • T. Tatoni
  • L. Le Mire Pecheux
  • B. Geslin
Original Paper


The increase in habitat fragmentation impacts plant-pollinator interactions and threatens the sustainability of plant species. Astragalus tragacantha (Fabaceae), is a rare endangered plant species along the coastal habitats where the plant populations have undergone considerable fragmentation and decline of size. Controlled pollination treatments, the observation of pollinator activity, and pollinator captures, have been conducted to study: (1) the mating system of A. tragacantha and the potential for inbreeding depression and/or outbreeding depression based on controlled pollination treatments, (2) the pollinator composition among populations using a correspondence analysis and a hierarchical clustering, and (3) the link between pollinators and the plant reproductive success using a path-analysis model. In this study, we demonstrated that this plant was not autogamous self-pollinating and depended on pollinators for its reproduction. The absence of difference between manual and open pollinations regarding the reproductive success showed an absence of pollen limitation in our populations. We showed that populations differed in the composition of their pollinator guilds. Some pollinator species were predominant in certain populations. The pollination treatments revealed the existence of a mixed mating system in A. tragacantha populations. We showed an inbreeding depression potentially linked to a predominant pollinator-facilitated selfing, and the existence of outbreeding depression between some distant populations. These differences in pollinator guild and plant mating systems among populations must be considered during the restoration of populations along the Mediterranean coastal habitats in order to enhance the reproductive success and sustainability of A. tragacantha.


Mixed mating system Pollination network Plant reproductive success Fragmented populations Inbreeding and outbreeding depressions Path analysis 



We are thankful to Calanques National Park for financial support. We thank A. Baumel for its helpful advices. We are grateful to D. Genoud, M. Aubert and D. Pavon for bee and plant identifications, and to L. Ropars for her support in the field. We thank the two English proofreadings of the manuscript (M. Paul REF 0820L025171 and ‘American Journal Expert’: Certificate Verification Key: 9EED-CE9D-8AE4-6522-49C3). Finally, we show gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers that provided useful comments on original version of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aix Marseille Univ, Univ Avignon, CNRS, IRD, IMBEMarseille Cedex 20France
  2. 2.Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 6, CNRS, INRA, IRD, UPEC, Institut d’Ecologie et des Sciences de l’Environnement de Paris (iEES-Paris)Paris Cedex 05France
  3. 3.Parc National des CalanquesMarseilleFrance

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