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Am J Bot. 1999 May;86(5):663-8.

Pollination of Ipomopsis aggregata (Polemoniaceae): effects of intra- vs. interspecific competition.

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  • Department of Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Shelford Vivarium, 606 E. Healey St., Champaign, Illinois 618202.


Although plants may simultaneously experience intra- and interspecific competition for pollination, their relative strength has rarely been experimentally evaluated. Yet because intra- and interspecific competition can be caused by different mechanisms, their effect on the ecology and evolution of plants may differ. To determine the relative strength of intra- and interspecific competition for pollination, I manipulated the presence of heterospecifics and density of conspecifics using Ipomopsis aggregata as the focal species. All plots contained I. aggregata and Castilleja linariaefolia, but C. linariaefolia inflorescences were removed from half of the plots to create the heterospecifics-absent treatment. Within each plot, all I. aggregata inflorescences were removed from a 5-m radius around a focal plant to create a low conspecific density experimental unit, and a group of 12 I. aggregata plants/1 m(2) was designated as a high conspecific density unit. Conspecific pollen deposition was reduced when C. linariaefolia was present but was not influenced by I. aggregata density. Although seed set per fruit was reduced by 17% when C. linariaefolia was present, it was not significantly influenced by either treatment. Interspecific competition for pollination is stronger than intraspecific competition in the I. aggregata-C. linariaefolia system, but neither process appears to influence plant fitness.

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