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High levels of fecundity in small and isolated populations of a self‐compatible Aloe pollinated by opportunistic birds and bees
, Johnson S.D., Duffy K.J.
, 2018. V. 20. No. 4. P. 780–788
Журнал с антэкологическими публикациями.
Plant species that are effective colonizers of transient habitats are expected to have a capacity for uniparental reproduction and show flexibility in pollination systems. Such traits may enable populations to be established from a small number of founding individuals without these populations succumbing to reductions in fecundity arising from pollinator limitation. We tested these predictions for Aloe thraskii (Xanthorrhoeaceae), a succulent treelet that colonizes shifting coastal dunes and has both bird and bee pollinators. We performed hand pollination experiments, and selectively excluded bird visitors to determine differences in pollinator effectiveness. We measured pollinator visitation rates and fecundity in populations varying in their size, density, and isolation distance. Controlled hand pollinations revealed that unlike most other Aloe species, A. thraskii is self-compatible and thus capable of uniparental reproduction. The species does however depend on pollinators and is visited by various bird species as well as by bees. Fruit and seed set are not affected by selective exclusion of birds, thus indicating that bees are effective pollinators. Bird visitation rates increased with increasing plant height and population size, while bee visitation rates increased with increasing population size and density. We found that seed set per flower was lower in large populations than in small populations. These results suggest that establishment of populations of A. thraskii from a small number of individuals is unlikely to be limited by the fecundity of individual plants.