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Am J Bot. 1997 May;84(5):641.

Pollination biology and outcrossing rates in hermaphroditic Schiedea lydgatei (Caryophyllaceae).


The influence of outcrossing and pollination biology on the maintenance of hermaphroditism was studied for Schiedea lydgatei (Caryophyllaceae: Alsinoideae), a species endemic to Moloka`i in the Hawaiian Islands. Schiedea lydgatei is the only hermaphroditic species in an otherwise dimorphic clade and hermaphroditism is likely the result of a reversal from a gynodioecious ancestor. Both wind and native moths in the family Pyralidae are responsible for pollination in S. lydgatei. Outcrossing rates were generally high (0.80), especially in years when the greatest number of plants were flowering. The combination of high outcrossing rates and substantial inbreeding depression indicates that at present females would not be favored in the population. Pollination by both wind and insects is consistent with the hypothesis that hermaphroditism is the result of a relatively recent reversal, as the ancestor of S. lydgatei was probably wind pollinated and gynodioecious with few females in the populations. A shift from wind to predominately insect pollination on Moloka`i may have resulted in increased outcrossing rates and prevented the expression of high inbreeding depression among progeny of hermaphrodites, a condition that would select against females and favor a reversal to hermaphroditism. Because few females were likely to have been present in ancestral populations that colonized Moloka`i, founder effect is another potential explanation for loss of females. In either case, current high levels of outcrossing prevent re-establishment of females in populations of S. lydgatei.

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