, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1379-1395
Date: 07 Dec 2006

Composition of the pollinator community, pollination and the mating system for a shrub in fragments of species rich kwongan in south-west Western Australia

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Abstract

In this study we investigate the composition of the potential honeyeater pollinator community, patterns of honeyeater visitation, pollination and the mating system in a range of population fragments for the bird-pollinated mixed mating system shrub Calothamnus quadrifidus R.Br. Specifically, we aimed to answer the following questions. For smaller and more isolated population fragments are honeyeater species lost from the pollinator community, patterns of visitation different, levels of pollination lower and rates of selfing, biparental inbreeding and correlated paternity higher. The composition of the honeyeater community was similar across population fragments and there was no relationship between the abundance of birds and population fragment size. Honeyeaters were most commonly observed visiting numerous inflorescences within single plants in all populations, but as population fragments became larger movements between plants were more commonly observed. Our observations of honeyeater visitation were generally consistent with our measurements of pollination and patterns in the mating system across population fragments. We found no significant relationship between population fragment size and levels of pollination. Mating system studies showed outcrossing rates (t m) comparable to those found in other bird-pollinated Myrtaceae, and ranged from 0.54 to 0.90 across populations. Outcrossing rates were not significantly correlated with log population size, but correlations of outcrossed paternity indicate a clear trend from low correlated paternity in larger populations to significantly higher correlated paternities in smaller populations. As a consequence mating in small populations will occur between much smaller groups of plants, and this may affect population fitness in subsequent generations.