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Does selfing provide reproductive assurance in the perennial herb Bulbine vagans (Asphodelaceae)?


  • Glenda Vaughton,

  • Mike Ramsey,

  • Ian Simpson

G. Vaughton (, M. Ramsey and I. Simpson, Botany, Univ. of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.


Selection for selfing to provide reproductive assurance depends on the balance between increased reproductive output when pollinators or potential mates are scarce and the extent that inbreeding depression erodes such fertility gains. We use glasshouse and field experiments to examine the benefits of autonomous and facilitated selfing in Bulbine vagans. Autonomous selfing was delayed until after opportunities for outcrossing and reproductive output was 0.67 relative to manual selfing and open pollination. Values less than one probably reflected insufficient autonomous deposition of self pollen. In the field, reproductive output of emasculated flowers was 0.50 relative to intact flowers that could both outcross and self, indicating that outcross pollen was limited and that selfing boosted reproductive output. Because all pollen was removed from anthers before intact flowers closed, facilitated selfing rather than autonomous selfing occurred. In the glasshouse, inbreeding depression was 0.45, but under natural conditions would probably exceed 0.5. Values greater than 0.5 negate the automatic gene transmission advantage afforded by selfing and increasingly erode the benefits of reproductive assurance. We conclude that in B. vagans delayed and facilitated selfing can confer reproductive assurance, providing the latter does not usurp ovules that could be outcrossed.