Male and female flowers of the dioecious perennial herb Rubus chamaemorus L. are similar in general appearance. However, female flowers are somewhat smaller, do not produce any pollen, and contain very small amounts of nectar. Syrphids and bumblebees, which are important pollinators of R. chamaemorus, showed a strong preference for male flowers. Male flowers were also less often rejected by flower visitors than were female flowers, and two different groups of syrphid species stayed longer in mal
e than in female flowers. These observations suggest that female flowers of R. chamaemorus attract pollinators by deceit.
Hand-pollination experiments indicated that pollen availability limited seed production of R. chamaemorus in female dominated habitats but not in areas with an equal floral sex ratio. We suggest that the relative importance of factors limiting female reproductive success is not constant, but is influenced by the floral sex ratio of the population. This should apply also to other dioecious species that show variable sex ratios on either a local or regional scale.
The flowering and fruiting patterns of the dioecious perennial herb Rubus chamaemorus L. were studied in frost-prone (open) and frost-sheltered (Shaded) habitats in northern Sweden over 6 years. The number of ramets with flower buds, the proportion of flower buds that opened, and fruit set varied markedly between years. In the frost-prone populations, the occurrence or absence of detrimental frosts during the development of flowers and fruit could explain much of the variation, both in the propo
rtion of flower buds that developed into flowers, and in fruit set. In the frost-sheltered populations, most female flowers that did not develop into fruit aborted without any signs of physical damage and before any ovules had begun to enlarge. Flower mortality caused by herbivores feeding on reproductive parts was commonly low, but reached values higher than 10% in one of the shaded populations. Hand-pollination increased the proportion of ovules producing seeds in the mature fruits by about 20%, and in one year also increased fruit set significantly in one population. Fruit-producing female ramets had a higher mortality and a lower probability of flowering in the subsequent year than male ramets and non-fruiting female ramets. In R. chamaemorus, the conditions for fruit maturation are highly unpredictable at the time of flower initiation. It is suggested that the apparent “over-initiation” of flower buds is advantageous, as it allows the plant to attain a high reproductive success in years favourable for flowering and fruit development.
It has been proposed that in non-rewarding animal-pollinated plants the pollination intensity should decrease with increasing population size and should increase with increasing local abundance of reward-producing plants. To test these hypotheses, we examined how population size, local abundance of Salix caprea, and tree cover were related to pollen removal and fruit production in 16 populations of the deceptive, early-flowering and bumblebee-pollinated orchid Calypso bulbosa in northern Sweden
in 3 consecutive years. To determine whether fruit production was limited by pollinator visitation, supplemental hand-pollinations were performed in three populations in 3 years. Finally, to examine whether increased fruit production was associated with a reduction in future flower production, vegetative growth or survival, supplemental hand-pollination was repeated for 5 years in one population. The levels of pollen export, pollen deposition, and fruit set of C. bulbosa varied considerably among years and among populations. The proportion of plants exporting pollen was negatively related to population size, and positively related to density of S. caprea and to tree cover in 1 of the 3 years. In the other 2 years, no significant relationship was detected between proportion of plants exporting pollen and the latter three variables. In no year was there a significant relationship between fruit set and population size, density of S. caprea and tree cover. There was substantial among-year variation in the extent to which fruit production was limited by insufficient pollen deposition and in the amount of weather-induced damage to flowers and developing fruits. Fruit set was consistently higher in hand-pollinated than in open-pollinated plants, but this difference was statistically significant in only one of 3 years. Supplemental hand-pollination in 5 consecutive years increased cumulative fruit production 1.8 times, but did not affect flower production, plant size, or survival. Tree cover was negatively correlated with the incidence of frost damage in 1 year. The results indicate that life-time seed production may be pollen limited in C. bulbosa, and that variation in population size and local abundance of the early-flowering, nectar-producing S. caprea can only partly explain the extensive variation in pollinator visitation among populations of this species.
Stigma position is a key aspect of flower morphology that may influence pollination success and seed production. In the self-incompatible, tristylous herb, Lythrum salicaria, the stigma is positioned inside the corolla tube in the short-styled morph, but outside the corolla in the mid- and long-styled morphs. We performed controlled pollinations to determine whether style morphs differ in duration of stigma receptivity and in interference caused by self-pollen deposition. As predicted, flowers o
f the short-styled morph remained receptive for longer if not pollinated than did flowers of the other two style morphs. When deposition of self-pollen preceded compatible cross-pollination, seed set was higher in the mid-styled morph than in the other style morphs. Interference caused by self-pollen deposition was overall strongest in the short-styled morph, but the magnitude of differences among style morphs was contingent on the relative timing of self and compatible pollen receipt. The results indicate that both differences in duration of stigma receptivity and interference from self-pollen deposition may contribute to observed variation in seed production and pollen limitation among style morphs in natural populations of L. salicaria. An association between stigma position and duration of stigma receptivity should constrain the evolution of flower morphology.
Grazing reduces litter thickness and vegetation height and may thereby indirectly affect reproductive success and selection on floral characters in plants with prostrate growth. Reductions in litter thickness and vegetation height should influence both the resource status of plants with leaves positioned close to the ground and the significance of inflorescence height for interactions with pollinators and seed predators. We experimentally examined how simulated grazing of surrounding vegetation
affected pollen limitation, fruit predation and fecundity of short-scaped and long-scaped Primula farinosa, which differ markedly in floral display and therefore in expected attractiveness to pollinators. Litter removal and pruning of surrounding vegetation increased fruit and seed production per plant in the year of the treatment and the probability of flowering in the following year. Pollen limitation of fruit and seed production was stronger in the short-scaped morph than in the long-scaped morph, but was not significantly affected by litter removal and simulated grazing of surrounding vegetation. Supplemental hand-pollination reduced seed size in the year of the treatment and flowering probability in the second year, and these effects did not differ among scape morphs or grazing treatments. The results suggest that grazing indirectly favours seed production in P. farinosa, mainly because it increases the resource status of plants that escape damage. Contrary to expectation, there was no strong evidence that litter accumulation and tall vegetation increase the severity of pollen limitation or reduce the relative performance of the short-scaped morph.
Herbivores may damage both leaves and reproductive structures, and although such combined damage may affect plant fitness non-additively, this has received little attention. We conducted a 2-year field experiment with a factorial design to examine the effects of simulated leaf (0, 12.5, 25, or 50% of leaf area removed) and inflorescence damage (0 vs. 50% of inflorescences removed) on survival, growth and reproduction in the perennial herb Arabidopsis lyrata. Leaf and inflorescence damage negativ
ely and independently reduced flower, fruit and seed production in the year of damage; leaf damage also reduced rosette size by the end of the first season and flower production in the second year. Leaf damage alone reduced the proportion of flowers forming a fruit and fruit production per plant the second year, but when combined with inflorescence damage no such effect was observed (significant leaf × inflorescence damage interaction). Damage to leaves (sources) caused a greater reduction in future reproduction than did simultaneous damage to leaves and inflorescences (sinks). This demonstrates that a full understanding of the effects of herbivore damage on plant fitness requires that consequences of damage to vegetative and reproductive structures are evaluated over more than 1 year and that non-additive effects are considered.
Background and AimsPlant–pollinator interactions are thought to have shaped much of floral evolution. Yet the relative importance of pollinator shifts and coevolutionary interactions for among-population variation in floral traits in animal-pollinated species is poorly known. This study examined the adaptive significance of spur length in the moth-pollinated orchid Platanthera bifolia.MethodsGeographical variation in the length of the floral spur of P. bifolia was documented in relation to varia
tion in the pollinator fauna across Scandinavia, and a reciprocal translocation experiment was conducted in south-east Sweden between a long-spurred woodland population and a short-spurred grassland population.Key ResultsSpur length and pollinator fauna varied among regions and habitats, and spur length was positively correlated with the proboscis length of local pollinators. In the reciprocal translocation experiment, long-spurred woodland plants had higher pollination success than short-spurred grassland plants at the woodland site, while no significant difference was observed at the grassland site.ConclusionsThe results are consistent with the hypothesis that optimal floral phenotype varies with the morphology of the local pollinators, and that the evolution of spur length in P. bifolia has been largely driven by pollinator shifts.