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Keywords:

  • biodiversity;
  • conspecific pollen loss;
  • heterospecific pollen deposition;
  • interspecific pollen transfer;
  • Mimulus guttatus (yellow monkey flower);
  • pollinator sharing

Summary

  • In natural communities, plants can receive pollen from multiple heterospecifics as well as conspecifics. However, studies on the effects of interspecific pollen transfer have focused on interactions between species pairs. The potential exists for diverse interactions among heterospecific pollen (HP) grains on the stigma, and for these to affect plant reproduction, alone or in combination with conspecific pollen (CP) loss, but these interactions have not yet been explored.
  • We used hand-pollinations to simulate increasing community diversity and CP loss on Mimulus guttatus stigmas. We used pollen mixes of one to three heterospecific donors to determine how species composition and CP load size affect seed production and to characterize the mechanisms underlying fertilization failure.
  • Heterospecific pollen deposition reduced M. guttatus seed production and while the effect increased with the number of heterospecific donors, the strength depended on species composition and was independent of conspecific load size. Different types of interactions (additive and synergistic) are hypothesized to underlie the diverse effects on M. guttatus reproductive success.
  • Our results suggest that an increase in the diversity of heterospecific donors will not always lead to a greater decrease in fitness because multispecies effects depend on the interacting species.