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Am J Bot. 2008 Mar;95(3):294-8. doi: 10.3732/ajb.95.3.294.

Density-dependent mating and reproductive assurance in the temperate forest herb Paris quadrifolia (Trilliaceae).

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  • 1Division Plant Ecology and Systematics, University of Leuven, Arenbergpark 31, B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium.


In animal-pollinated plants, autonomous selfing provides reproductive assurance under conditions of infrequent pollinator visits or a lack of mates, but few data are available for wind-pollinated species or species with combined insect and wind-pollination, for which it is often assumed that pollen availability does not limit reproduction. In this study, the capacity of autonomous selfing was investigated in the temperate forest herb Paris quadrifolia, and an emasculation experiment was performed under natural field conditions to investigate the contribution of autonomous selfing to total seed set across a continuous gradient of densities of flowering conspecifics. In the absence of wind or pollinators, autonomous selfing was observed through anthers approaching stigmas at the end of flowering and the capacity for autonomous pollination was about 0.34. Under natural conditions, considerable outcross pollination was observed, but the proportion of ovules successfully fertilized significantly decreased with decreasing density of conspecifics when flowers were emasculated, but not when flowers were left intact. These results indicate that autonomous selfing resulted in reproductive assurance (RA = 0.16) and thus support the hypothesis that autonomous selfing can also provide reproductive assurance in wind-pollinated species.

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