During habitat fragmentation, plant populations become smaller and more isolated from each other, resulting in increasing inbreeding rates within populations. Furthermore, fragmentation is often accompanied by a progressive deterioration of soil conditions. Overall, high inbreeding rates and poor soil conditions decrease plant performance and so increase the probability of extinction of fragmented plant populations. The goal of this study was to investigate the effects of inbreeding and soil acidification on seed and offspring traits of Succisa pratensis and Hypochaeris radicata, two plant species differing in mating system, lifespan and dispersal ability. For each species, plants from four populations of different sizes were hand-pollinated. The selfed and outcrossed progeny were grown at two soil pH levels. Overall, results showed that the dispersal potential of H. radicata was reduced by selfing, indicating that dispersal capacity is not independent from the genetic erosion process. Variation among seed families and its interactions with pollination treatments indicate that dispersal capacity may have a genetic basis. The performance of both species decreased sharply as soil conditions became more acidic, but inbreeding did not aggravate the process. These results suggest that S. pratensis and H. radicata populations may decline in the long term; however, family level variation suggests a potential for adaptation to new conditions. © 2005 Gesellschaft für Ökologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
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