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Testing hypotheses for excess flower production and low fruit-to-flower ratios in a pollinating seed-consuming mutualism
 

Summary: Testing hypotheses for excess flower production and low fruit-to-
flower ratios in a pollinating seed-consuming mutualism
J. Nathaniel Holland, Judith L. Bronstein and Donald L. DeAngelis
Holland, J. N., Bronstein, J. L. and DeAngelis, D. L. 2004. Testing hypotheses for
excess flower production and low fruit-to-flower ratios in a pollinating seed-consuming
mutualism. / Oikos 105: 633/640.
Pollinator attraction, pollen limitation, resource limitation, pollen donation and
selective fruit abortion have all been proposed as processes explaining why
hermaphroditic plants commonly produce many more flowers than mature fruit. We
conducted a series of experiments in Arizona to investigate low fruit-to-flower ratios in
senita cacti, which rely exclusively on pollinating seed-consumers. Selective abortion of
fruit based on seed predators is of particular interest in this case because plants relying
on pollinating seed-consumers are predicted to have such a mechanism to minimize
seed loss. Pollinator attraction and pollen dispersal increased with flower number, but
fruit set did not, refuting the hypothesis that excess flowers increase fruit set by
attracting more pollinators. Fruit set of natural- and hand-pollinated flowers were not
different, supporting the resource, rather than pollen, limitation hypothesis. Senita did
abort fruit, but not selectively based on pollen quantity, pollen donors, or seed
predators. Collectively, these results are consistent with sex allocation theory in that
resource allocation to excess flower production can increase pollen dispersal and the

  

Source: Azevedo, Ricardo - Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Houston
Holland, J. Nathaniel - Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine; Environmental Sciences and Ecology