Effects of population size, seed predation and plant size on male and female reproductive success in Vincetoxicum hirundinaria (Asclepiadaceae)
Leimu R., Syrjänen K.
Here we present the results of a study on the effects of population size, seed predation, and plant size on male and female reproductive success in ten Vincetoxicum hirundinaria populations in southwestern Finland. We investigated male reproductive success by recording pollinia removal, and studying pollen quality and quantity. Pod and seed production, and the number of ovules per ovary were counted to estimate female reproductive success. Both pollen quality and pollinia removal were higher in small V. hirundinaria populations compared to large populations. In contrast, the quantity of pollen was higher in large populations than in small populations. Pod initiation was higher in large populations. However, large populations had higher abortion rates and proportionally fewer intact pods. Plant size did not affect male reproductive success whereas pod and seed production correlated positively with plant size, although only in large populations. Population size had no clear impact on seed predation intensities. Variation was, however, observed among populations. Larger plant individuals suffered from an increased risk of being attacked only in two populations. This correlation was not clearly attributed to plant population size. The results of this study suggest that reproductive success in V. hirundinaria may be highly variable and this variation is to some extent explained by population size. Further, population size affected male and female reproductive success differently.