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Pollination and reproduction of a self-incompatible forest herb in hedgerow corridors and forest patches

Abstract

Habitat-corridors are assumed to counteract the negative impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation, but their efficiency in doing so depends on the maintenance of ecological processes in corridor conditions. For plants dispersing in linear habitats, one of these critical processes is the maintenance of adequate pollen transfer to insure seed production within the corridor. This study focuses on a common, self-incompatible forest herb, Trillium grandiflorum, to assess plant–pollinator interactions and the influence of spatial processes on plant reproduction in hedgerow corridors compared to forests. First, using pollen supplementation experiments over 2 years, we quantified the extent of pollen limitation in both habitats, testing the prediction of greater limitation in small hedgerow populations than in forests. While pollen limitation of fruit and seed set was common, its magnitude did not differ between habitats. Variations among sites, however, suggested an influence of landscape context on pollination services. Second, we examined the effect of isolation on plant reproduction by monitoring fruit and seed production, as well as pollinator activity and assemblage, in small flower arrays transplanted in hedgerows at increasing distances from forest and from each other. We detected no difference in the proportion of flowers setting fruit or in pollinator activity with isolation, but we observed some differences in pollinator assemblages. Seed set, on the other hand, declined significantly with increasing isolation in the second year of the study, but not in the first year, suggesting altered pollen transfer with distance. Overall, plants in hedgerow corridors and forests benefited from similar pollination services. In this system, plant–pollinator interactions and reproduction seem to be influenced more by variations in resource distribution over years and landscapes than by local habitat conditions.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies. The authors wish to thank B. Gelinas and V. Paul for their assistance with fieldwork and landowners who gave access to their property. We also thank N. Waser and an anonymous reviewer who, with their comments, largely contributed to improve this manuscript. The experiments described here comply with the current laws of Canada and Quebec.

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Correspondence to Reto Schmucki.

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Communicated by Katherine Gross.

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Schmucki, R., de Blois, S. Pollination and reproduction of a self-incompatible forest herb in hedgerow corridors and forest patches. Oecologia 160, 721–733 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-009-1347-4

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Keywords

  • Functional connectivity
  • Habitat corridor
  • Plant–pollinator interaction
  • Pollen limitation
  • Trillium grandiflorum