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Extensive pollen flow but few pollen donors and high reproductive variance in an extremely fragmented landscape

Abstract : Analysing pollen movement is a key to understanding the reproductive system of plant species and how it is influenced by the spatial distribution of potential mating partners in fragmented populations. Here we infer parameters related to levels of pollen movement and diversity of the effective pollen cloud for the wind-pollinated shrub Pistacia lentiscus across a highly disturbed landscape using microsatellite loci. Paternity analysis and the indirect KinDist and Mixed Effect Mating models were used to assess mating patterns, the pollen dispersal kernel, the effective number of males (N(ep)) and their relative individual fertility, as well as the existence of fine-scale spatial genetic structure in adult plants. All methods showed extensive pollen movement, with high rates of pollen flow from outside the study site (up to 73-93%), fat-tailed dispersal kernels and large average pollination distances (δ = 229-412 m). However, they also agreed in detecting very few pollen donors (N(ep) = 4.3-10.2) and a large variance in their reproductive success: 70% of males did not sire any offspring among the studied female plants and 5.5% of males were responsible for 50% of pollinations. Although we did not find reduced levels of genetic diversity, the adult population showed high levels of biparental inbreeding (14%) and strong spatial genetic structure (S(p) = 0.012), probably due to restricted seed dispersal and scarce safe sites for recruitment. Overall, limited seed dispersal and the scarcity of successful pollen donors can be contributing to generate local pedigrees and to increase inbreeding, the prelude of genetic impoverishment.
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Rafael G. Albaladejo, Beatriz Guzmán, Santiago C. González-Martínez, Abelardo Aparicio. Extensive pollen flow but few pollen donors and high reproductive variance in an extremely fragmented landscape. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2012, 7 (11), pp.1-9. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0049012⟩. ⟨hal-02646430⟩

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