, Volume 142, Issue 2, pp 212–220 | Cite as

Limitations on reproductive success in endemic Aquilegia viscosa (Ranunculaceae) relative to its widespread congener Aquilegia vulgaris: the interplay of herbivory and pollination

  • Sébastien Lavergne
  • Max Debussche
  • John D. Thompson
Plant Animal Interactions


Plant reproduction can be strongly affected by herbivory and different features of pollination ecology, such as pollinator visitation rates and capacity for self-pollination. The purpose of this study is to compare the relative impact of herbivory and pollination on maternal reproductive success in endemic Aquilegia viscosa and its widespread congener Aquilegia vulgaris. We conducted herbivore exclusion experiments in two populations of each species in 2 different years and showed that the maternal fertility of A. viscosa was significantly more limited by floral predation and pre-dispersal seed predation than its widespread congener. In the absence of herbivory, A. viscosa retained significantly lower maternal fertility than A. vulgaris. Experimental pollinations in an insect-free glasshouse showed that the two species have an equal seed/ovule ratio both in the absence of pollinators and in the presence of non-limiting outcross pollination. Pollinator visitation rates were significantly higher in populations of A. vulgaris than in populations of A. viscosa. In addition, path analyses showed that spur length, an important trait for pollinator attraction in Aquilegia, and, indirectly sepal and petal width, contribute positively to the seed/ovule ratio in A. vulgaris, but not in A. viscosa. These results indicate that maternal fertility of endemic A. viscosa is strongly reduced by flower and seed predation despite low rates of pollinator visitation, and that pollen or resource limitation in the wild may further reduce maternal fertility. Finally, floral trait variation appears to be decoupled from fertility variation in endemic A. viscosa, which possibly constrains the evolution of reproductive traits in this species.


Endemism Reproductive success Pollination Herbivory Ranunculaceae 



The authors thank Clélia Sirami, Claire Lagaye and Sophie Dubois for help with field work and Annabelle Dos Santos and Geneviève Debussche for technical help. The CNRS, the European Laboratory (LEA) “Mediterranean ecosystems in a changing world”, the Conservatoire Botanique National Méditerranéen de Porquerolles, l’Institut Français de la Biodiversité and the Région Languedoc-Roussillon provided financial support. The authors thank the Conservatoire-Etudes des Ecosystèmes de Provence and the Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels du Languedoc-Roussillon for logistic help and the Conservatoire Botanique National Méditerranéen for permission to sample plant material.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sébastien Lavergne
    • 1
  • Max Debussche
    • 1
  • John D. Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et EvolutiveCNRSMontpellier cedex 5France

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