Pollinator limitation and the effect of breeding systems on plant reproduction in forest fragments

  • Nayak K
  • Davidar P
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Abstract

Reproduction of plants in fragmented habitats may be limited because of lower diversity or abundance of pollinators, and/or variation in local plant density. We assessed natural fruit set and pollinator limitation in ten species of woody plants in natural and restored fragments in the Pondicherry region of southern India, to see whether breeding system of plants (self-compatible and self-incompatible) affected fruit set. We tested whether the number of flowering individuals in the fragments affected the fruit set and further examined the adult and sapling densities of self-compatible (SC) and self-incompatible (SI) species. We measured the natural level of fruit set and pollinator limitation (calculated as the difference in fruit set between hand cross-pollinated and naturally pollinated flowers). Our results demonstrate that there was a higher level of pollinator limitation and hence lower levels of natural fruit set in self-incompatible species as compared to self-compatible species. However, the hand cross-pollinated flowers in SC and SI species produced similar levels of fruit set, further indicating that lower fruit set was due to pollinator limitation and not due to lack of cross-compatible individuals in the fragments. There was no significant relation between number of flowering individuals and the levels of natural fruit set, except for two species Derris ovalifolia, Ixora pavetta. In these species the natural fruit set decreased with increasing population size, again indicating pollinator limitation. The adult and sapling densities in self-compatible species were significantly higher than in self-incompatible species. These findings indicate that the low reproductive output in self-incompatible species may eventually lead to lower population sizes. Restoration of pollinator services along with plant species in fragmented habitats is important for the long-term conservation of biodiversity. © 2009 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Breeding systems
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Pollinator limitation
  • Self-compatibility and - incompatibility
  • Tropical dry forest

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Authors

  • K. Geetha Nayak

  • Priya Davidar

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