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Keywords:

  • common twayblade;
  • female success;
  • fruit set;
  • geitonogamous vs. cross-pollination;
  • pollen dispersal;
  • pollen limitation;
  • pollinia removal

Pollination efficiency and reproductive success vary strongly among populations of most animal-pollinated plant species, depending on their size and local density, whereas individual plants within populations experience varying levels of reproductive output as a result of differences in floral display. Although most orchid species have been shown to be severely pollination limited, few studies have investigated the impact of the above-mentioned factors on pollination success and reproduction, especially in rewarding species. In this study, the impact of population size, local density of flowering plants, and floral display on the rates of pollinia export and fruit production was investigated in 13 natural populations of the rewarding terrestrial orchid Listera ovata. In addition, an emasculation experiment was set up to examine how floral display and local density of flowering plants affected the relative importance of cross- vs. geitonogamous pollination in determining fruit set. In the studied populations, pollination efficiency, pollen removal, and fruit set increased with increasing population size until a threshold value of 30–40 flowering plants was reached, above which pollination efficiency and reproductive output decreased again. On average, plants with large floral displays showed higher proportional pollinia removal and fruit set compared with smaller plants. Fruit production was also significantly and positively related to local plant density, whereas emasculation did not affect the relationship between local plant density and fruit set, suggesting that geitonogamous pollination did not affect the outcome of female function. The results of this study are discussed in the light of the flowering mechanism of the species and its generalized pollination system. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 157, 713–721.