Reproductive success increases with local density of conspecifics in a desert mustard (Lesquerella fendleri)

  • Roll J
  • Mitchell R
  • Cabin R
 et al. 
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We investigated the effects of plant density on reproduction for an insect-pollinated desert mustard (Lesquerella fendleri [Brassicaceae]). Individual reproductive success, as measured by seeds per fruit, proportion of flowers setting fruit, and total seed production, increased with the density of conspecifics within 1 m. However, including the density of conspecifics at greater distances (1-3 m) did not significantly increase the amount of variation in reproductive success explained by the regression model. This implies that processes occurring on a scale of 1 m or less have important effects on reproduction. Total seed production also was greater for high-density plants than for otherwise similar plants with a low-density of conspecifics. We argue that increased pollinator visilation is the most likely cause of this facilitation and that investigations of the effects of rarity on reproduction success should directly consider density along with more commonly used attributes such as population size and fragmentation.

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