Inbreeding and outcrossing in Yucca whipplei: consequences for the reproductive success of plant and pollinator



Unlike most pollinators, yucca moths are active pollinators of their host plants. Females lay their eggs in the flowers they pollinate, and their larvae feed solely on the resulting seeds. Previous evidence suggests that the yucca moth Tegeticula maculata avoids self-pollinating their host Yucca whipplei. Other yucca moths may self-pollinate more frequently. When pollinating, yucca moths are also reported to fly large distances between plants, bypassing neighbouring plants in the process. We experimentally verify the suggestion of Pellmyr et al. that yucca is more likely to retain fruits from self-pollination if overall fruit set is low. Thus, selection on moths to avoid self-pollinating should be density dependent. We found no evidence that mating with close neighbours resulted in inbreeding depression, thus the moth's long-distance flights between plants are yet to be explained.