Mating patterns and pollen dispersal in four contrasting wild cherry populations (Prunus avium L.)
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Although pollen dispersal has been extensively studied in trees, parameters influencing between-population variation are still poorly understood. In this study, we conducted paternity analyses on open-pollinated seeds in four natural populations of wild cherry (Prunus avium) with contrasting density and clonal propagation, using eight microsatellite loci and one self-incompatibility system locus. We also measured four quantitative traits and spatial positions as potential correlates of reproductive success. Levels of polyandry differed among populations and 30% of the seed families exhibited unequal paternal contributions, suggesting variation in reproductive success rather than variation in mate availability. Mating occurred preferentially among neighbours in all populations, suggesting that it is a common pattern in wild cherry and probably results from pollinator behaviour. Paternal success was positively correlated with diameter at breast height, as indicated in previous studies and tree dominance only resulted in higher paternal success in low density plots. Mating patterns were thus also affected by both density and tree size. Large-scale studies are needed to disentangle relative influences of these factors on the mating system and pollination success.
KeywordsPrunus avium Self-incompatibility system Reproductive success Pollen dispersal Asexual reproduction Density
We thank Alexandra Meier, Volker Schneck and Thomas Stauber for technical assistance, Dina Führmann for editing, Alexandre Sebbenn, Sheila Ward, Jutta Buschbom and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) [grant 05/BE003/2 “Erfassung der genetischen Struktur der Vogelkirsche Prunus avium als Grundlage für ein genetisches Monitoring wichtiger Waldbaumarten in Deutschland”].
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