Floral evolution and male reproductive success: Optimal dispensing schedules for pollen dispersal by animal-pollinated plants
Selection favouring an outcrossing plant's ability to sire seeds generally promotes floral characters that increase (1) the frequency of pollinator visits, (2) the number of pollen grains dispersed to other plants by each pollinator and (3) the probability of a pollen grain successfully fertilizing an ovule after reaching a stigma. Flowers influence pollen dispersal and fertilization probabilities by determining the pattern of pollen removal during a series of visits (dispensing schedule). We model male reproductive success to identify optimal dispensing schedules, which characteristically involve monotonic increases in the proportion of remaining pollen removed during successive visits. These schedules balance the benefits of restricted removal, which counteracts the diminishing returns associated with animal pollination (e.g. pollinator grooming, local mate competition), with the advantages of increased removal to avoid time-dependent losses in fertilization ability (e.g. pollen precedence, declining viability). Because pollinator availability mediates this balance, the most effective dispensing schedule allows dynamic adjustment of removal to the prevailing frequency of visits experienced by individual plants. As an example of such dynamic removal we demonstrate that the dispensing mechanism of Lupinus sericeus flowers allows facultative adjustment of removal to the interval between visits. Because optimal control of pollen removal can increase a plant's mating opportunities by an order of magnitude, dispensing mechanisms should be a common component of floral design. © 1994 Chapman & Hall.
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