Non-additive effects of pollen limitation and self-incompatibility reduce plant reproductive success and population viability Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • BACKGROUND AND AIMS:Mating system is a primary determinant of the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of wild plant populations. Pollen limitation and loss of self-incompatibility genotypes can both act independently to reduce seed set and these effects are commonly observed in fragmented landscapes. This study used a simulation modelling approach to assess the interacting effects of these two processes on plant reproductive performance and population viability for a range of pollination likelihood, self-incompatibility systems and S-allele richness conditions. METHODS:A spatially explicit, individual-based, genetic and demographic simulation model parameterized to represent a generic self-incompatible, short-lived perennial herb was used to conduct simulation experiments in which pollination probability, self-incompatibility type (gametophytic and sporophytic) and S-allele richness were systematically varied in combination to assess their independent and interacting effects on the demographic response variables of mate availability, seed set, population size and population persistence. KEY RESULTS:Joint effects of reduced pollination probability and low S-allele richness were greater than independent effects for all demographic response variables except population persistence under high pollinator service (>50 %). At intermediate values of 15-25 % pollination probability, non-linear interactions with S-allele richness generated significant reductions in population performance beyond those expected by the simple additive effect of each independently. This was due to the impacts of reduced effective population size on the ability of populations to retain S alleles and maintain mate availability. Across a limited set of pollination and S-allele conditions (P = 0ยท15 and S = 20) populations with gametophytic SI showed reduced S-allele erosion relative to those with sporophytic SI, but this had limited effects on individual fecundity and translated into only modest increases in population persistence. CONCLUSIONS:Interactions between pollen limitation and loss of S alleles have the potential to significantly reduce the viability of populations of a few hundred plants. Population decline may occur more rapidly than expected when pollination probabilities drop below 25 % and S alleles are fewer than 20 due to non-additive interactions. These are likely to be common conditions experienced by plants in small populations in fragmented landscapes and are also those under which differences in response between gameptophytic and sporophtyic systems are observed.

publication date

  • February 2012