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Spatio-temporal variation in the pollination mode of Buxus balearica (Buxaceae), an ambophilous and selfing species: mainland-island comparison

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Mixed-pollination systems may allow plants to achieve stable seed production when unpredictable conditions cause variation in the relative success of different pollination modes. We studied variation in time (two years) and space (in five populations, three from an island and two from mainland) in the pollination mode of Buxus balearica, an ambophilous (i.e. pollinated by wind and insects) and selfing species distributed in the Mediterranean Basin, by means of direct observations and experimental manipulations (bagging with different material). The relative importance of each pollination mode differed among populations; however, levels of selfing and wind pollination were similar between island and mainland. Flowers of B. balearica were visited only by generalist insects, and species composition and abundance of flower visitors varied both in space and time. Frequency of insect visits to plants were not higher in mainland than island populations, although insects on the mainland were more diverse, visited a proportionally greater number of flowers, and remained longer on the plants than insects on the island. Frequency of insect visits was negatively correlated with flowering synchrony (all populations pooled) and was found to increase seed set in one of the mainland populations (that with highest frequency of insect visits and highest flower visitation rate). Fruit and seed mass were found to be not affected by pollination mode. Scarcity of pollinators in the island seems to have an effect on the pollination mode, although the greatest variation in breeding system was found at a more local scale.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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