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Effects of pollination and pollen source on the seed set ofPedicularis palustris

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Abstract

Habitat alteration can deteriorate plant-pollinator interactions and thereby increase the risk of population extinction. As part of a larger study on the effects of changes in land use on fen grassland vegetation, factors influencing the seed set of a short-lived, endangered wetland plant,Pedicularis palustris, were studied. We conducted field pollination experiments in one large and one small population. To investigate the effect of pollen source on seed set, individual flowers of caged plants were left unpollinated or were pollinated with pollen from the same flower, the same population or another population. To study pollen limitation and flower display, whole plants were subjected to pollinator exclosure, hand pollination or natural pollination. Self-compatibility was high, but differed between populations (61% and 97% of seed set after cross-pollination within populations). Cross-pollination between populations did not significantly alter seed number per capsule. Pollinator exclosure resulted in a very low seed set (<15% of natural seed set), despite high self-compatibility. The most likely explanations for high self-compatibility in combination with low autofertility are geitonogamy as reproductive assurance, selective neutrality of self-compatibility and phylogenetic constraints. Because of low autofertility, the seed set inP. palustris depends on pollinators. In the study populations, natural pollination was clearly sufficient for maximum seed production per plant, but seed set per capsule was significantly pollen-limited in the smaller population. Plants in this population also had a higher maximum percentage of simultaneously open flowers than those of the large population (31% vs. 13%), while flower longevity was generally extended without pollination. It is concluded thatP. palustris may influence pollinator behaviour and therefore the risk of pollen limitation by flower display.P. palustris showed a flexible reaction to differing pollination regimes without losses in overall seed set in the study populations.

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Karrenberg, S., Jensen, K. Effects of pollination and pollen source on the seed set ofPedicularis palustris . Folia Geobot 35, 191–202 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02803097

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