Selection on floral display in insect-pollinated Primula farinosa: effects of vegetation height and litter accumulation
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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.
KeywordsBiotic interactions Herbivory Pollination Primula farinosa Seed production
This study was financially supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning to JE and JÅ.
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