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1. Fragmentation of natural vegetation is currently one of the largest threats to plant populations and their interactions with pollinators. Plant reproductive susceptibility to habitat fragmentation has been investigated in many species; however, the response of wild mass-flowering species is poorly known, with research limited to mainly boreal plant species.
2. Here we studied twelve remnant populations of the threatened mass-flowering shrub Conospermum undulatum in the southwest Australian biodiversity hotspot, each presenting different population size, level of isolation, and floral display. We assessed the impact of fragmentation on: 1) fruit and seed production; and 2) seed germination. To gain a deeper understanding of factors influencing the reproductive success of C. undulatum we performed pollinator exclusion and self-pollination treatments to experimentally assess the mating system of this threatened shrub.
3. We found C. undulatum to be strictly self-incompatible and totally reliant on pollinators visiting with an outcrossed pollen load to complete the reproductive cycle. Further, we found that fruit production significantly decreased with decreasing floral display. A decrease in population size and floral display led to a decrease in seed output, while increasing isolation also led to a reduced production of seeds. Overall, seed germination was positively related to population size, and a negative relationship was found between germination and isolation.
4. Our results demonstrate the important relationship between pollinators and floral morphology in plants of southwest Australia that have coevolved with native pollinators and developed characteristic flower morphologies over long timeframes. The self-incompatible C. undulatum cannot rely on its mass-flowering trait to attract pollinators from co-flowering species, neither can it compensate for the lack of visitors by promoting geitonogamy. Consequently, fragmentation has a significant effect on the reproductive output of C. undulatum, and size, isolation, and floral display of populations should be considered when planning conservation actions for the species.
This dataset was originally published at:
fruit and seed set
Population's statistics and fruit and seed output of each recorded plant fruit_and_seed_set.csv
Population's statistics and germination of seeds of each recorded plant
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 License.
Delnevo, N., van Etten, E., Byrne, M., & Stock, W. (2020). Floral display and habitat fragmentation: effects on the reproductive success of the threatened mass-flowering Conospermum undulatum (Proteaceae) [dataset]. Dryad. http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4cg374r