Pollen dispersal was characterized within a population of the narrowly endemic perennial herb, Centaurea corymbosa, using exclusion-based and likelihood-based paternity analyses carried out on microsatellite data. Data were used to fit a model of pollen dispersal and to estimate the rates of pollen flow and mutation/genotyping error, by developing a new method. Selfing was rare (1.6%). Pollen dispersed isotropically around each flowering plant following a leptokurtic distribution, with 50% of mating pairs separated by less than 11 m, but 22% by more than 40 m. Estimates of pollen flow lacked precision (0-25%), partially because mutations and/or genotyping errors (0.03-1%) could also explain the occurrence of offspring without a compatible candidate father. However, the pollen pool that fertilized these offspring was little differentiated from the adults of the population whereas strongly differentiated from the other populations, suggesting that pollen flow rate among populations was low. Our results suggest that pollen dispersal is too extended to allow differentiation by local adaptation within a population. However, among populations, gene flow might be low enough for such processes to occur.
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