Effects of Inbreeding, Outbreeding, and Supplemental Pollen on the Reproduction of a Hummingbird-pollinated Clonal Amazonian Herb

  • Schleuning M
  • Templin M
  • Huamán V
 et al. 
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Understory herbs are an essential part of tropical rain forests, but little is known about factors limiting their reproduction. Many of these herbs are clonal, patchily distributed, and produce large floral displays of nectar-rich 1-d flowers to attract hummingbird pollinators that may transport pollen over long distances. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of clonality, cross-proximity, and patchy distribution on the reproduction of the hummingbird-pollinated Amazonian herb Heliconia metallica. We experimentally pollinated flowers within populations with self-pollen and with pollen of different diversity, crossed flowers between popu- lations, and added supplemental pollen to ramets growing solitarily or in conspecific patches. Only flowers pollinated early in the morning produced seeds. Selfed flowers produced seeds, but seed number and mass were strongly reduced, suggesting partial sterility and inbreeding depression after selfing. Because of pollen com- petition, flowers produced more seeds after crosses with several than with single donor plants. Crosses between populations mostly resulted in lower seed production than those within populations, suggesting outbreeding depression. Ramets in patches produced fewer seeds than solitary ramets and were more pollen-limited, possibly due to geitonogamy and biparental inbreeding in patches. We conclude that high rates of geitonogamy due to clonality and pollen limitation due to the short receptivity of flowers and patchy distribution constrain the reproduction of this clonal herb. Even in unfragmented rain forests with highly mobile pollinators, out- breeding depression may be a widespread phenomenon in plant reproduction.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Clonality
  • Geitonogamy
  • Heliconiaceae
  • Hummingbird pollination
  • Peru
  • Pollen limitation
  • Pollination experiment
  • Rain forest understory

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  • Matthias Schleuning

  • Mathias Templin

  • Vicky Huamán

  • Giovana P. Vadillo

  • Walter Durka

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