Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 553–568

Variation in self-fertility and the reproductive advantage of self-fertility for an invading plant (Spartina alterniflora)

  • Curtis C. Daehler

DOI: 10.1023/A:1006556709662

Cite this article as:
Daehler, C.C. Evolutionary Ecology (1998) 12: 553. doi:10.1023/A:1006556709662


The factors responsible for the reproductive success or failure of individuals in small, founding populations have received little attention. Previous work on a small population of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) invading San Francisco Bay, California found that most clones flower prolifically but set little or no seed, while a few clones have high rates of viable seed set, producing most of the seeds in the population. This study first identifies recruitment from seeds as the main source of new smooth cordgrass plants during invasion and then tests the influence of growing conditions and pollination treatment on viable seed set among clones established in San Francisco Bay. Field transplants indicated that a clone's seed set rate was not strongly dependent on its site of establishment. Low and high nutrient greenhouse treatments also had little effect on viable seed set rates within most clones. In contrast, pollination treatment (self-pollination or outcrossing) had a major effect on viable seed set rates. Most clones had high seed set rates after outcross-pollination, but clones varied widely in their selfing capacity. Zero or low viable self-seed set rates were most common; however, a few clones had high viable self-seed set rates, comparable to outcross seed set rates. A clone's selfing capacity was significantly correlated across years (r=0.89, P<0.001), and capacity to set viable self-pollinated seeds in the greenhouse was significantly correlated with the clone's rate of viable seed set in the field \((r_s = 0.74, P < 0.005)\). In this growing population where cross-pollination is limited, only the clones with high selfing ability had high viable seed set rates in the field. Among primarily outcrossing plant invaders, variation in self-fertility among individuals may be a common phenomenon, with important implications for genetic differentiation, effective population size and patterns of spatial spread during an invasion.

biological invasion founding population seed set self-fertility self-pollination smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Curtis C. Daehler
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Population BiologyUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA

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