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Pollen diversity matters: revealing the neglected effect of pollen diversity on fitness in fragmented landscapes

Authors

  • Martin F. Breed,

    1. Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity (ACEBB) and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, SA, Australia
    2. Plant Ecology and Evolution, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, SE-752 36, Uppsala, Sweden
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  • Maria H. K. Marklund,

    1. Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity (ACEBB) and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, SA, Australia
    2. Department of Limnology, Uppsala University, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, SE-752 36, Uppsala, Sweden
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  • Kym M. Ottewell,

    1. Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity (ACEBB) and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, SA, Australia
    2. Science Division, Department of Environment and Conservation, Perth, WA, Australia
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  • Michael G. Gardner,

    1. Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity (ACEBB) and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, SA, Australia
    2. School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia
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  • J. Berton C. Harris,

    1. Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity (ACEBB) and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, SA, Australia
    2. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
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  • Andrew J. Lowe

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Science Resource Centre, State Herbarium of South Australia, SA, Australia
    • Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity (ACEBB) and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, SA, Australia
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Correspondence: Andrew J. Lowe, Fax: +61 8 8303 4364; E-mail: andrew.lowe@adelaide.edu.au

Abstract

Few studies have documented the impacts of habitat fragmentation on plant mating patterns together with fitness. Yet, these processes require urgent attention to better understand the impact of contemporary landscape change on biodiversity and for guiding native plant genetic resource management. We examined these relationships using the predominantly insect-pollinated Eucalyptus socialis. Progeny were collected from trees located in three increasingly disturbed landscapes in southern Australia and were planted out in common garden experiments. We show that individual mating patterns were increasingly impacted by lower conspecific density caused by habitat fragmentation. We determined that reduced pollen diversity probably has effects over and above those of inbreeding on progeny fitness. This provides an alternative mechanistic explanation for the indirect density dependence often inferred between conspecific density and offspring fitness.

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