S. van der Meer
- Does pollen limitation affect population growth of the endangered Dracocephalum austriacum L.?
- Population Ecology
- Volume | Issue number
- 57 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Reproductive strategies can have significant consequences for the viability of plant populations. Still, the effects of lower fruit set due to pollen limitation on plant demography and population persistence have rarely been explored. The objectives of this study were to assess the ecological factors determining female reproductive success and to study the impact of pollen limitation on population growth of Dracocephalum austriacum L. (Lamiaceae), a critically endangered species with a discontinuous distribution across Europe. Despite the significant background information gathered on the population dynamics and genetic diversity of D. austriacum, little is known about its reproductive strategy and the effect it has on population growth. Thus, the reproductive system, pollinator assemblage and pollen limitation were studied in natural populations and the impact of pollen-limited seed production on population growth was assessed using existing transition matrix models. The results revealed that D. austriacum is protandrous self-compatible species that produces very few seeds in the absence of pollinators. The flowers are visited by several insects, including legitimate pollinators (e.g., Bombus hortorum, Osmia spp.) and nectar robbers (other Bombus spp., O. aurulenta). Fruit and seed production was significantly pollen-limited in all populations studied. However, despite the positive effect of pollen supplementation on seed production, the resulting increase in seed number did not significantly increase population growth rates in any of the studied populations. Hence, we conclude that populations are demographically stable and current natural seed production is sufficient for the species' persistence.
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