The pollination and reproductive success of flowering plants can be negatively influenced in various ways by neighbouring heterospecific plants, such as resource competition and reproductive interference. We hypothesized that covering together with shading by neighbouring plants may reduce pollinator visits to and reproductive success of plants by reducing floral attractiveness and pollinator activity and by interrupting flower access, respectively. To test this hypothesis, we examined whether shaded and covered flowers suffered from pollinator limitation and low reproductive success in a population of the dwarf herb Lithospermum zollingeri, which co-exists with woody and herbaceous plants in anthropogenically maintained forest edge meadows. Here, shaded and covered flowers were defined as those beneath the shade of the woods and those whose front portion was covered by any vegetative part of neighbouring plants, respectively. The shaded and covered flowers were visited by significantly fewer pollinators than sunlit and open flowers in the field. However, three major pollinator species responded differently to shading and covering. Significant pollen limitation reduced seed set in covered flowers, and shaded flowers produced fewer seeds. Pollen removal from the anthers was not influenced by shading or covering. Our study demonstrates the negative effects of covering on pollinator visits and seed production. It also elucidates the negative effects of shading on reproductive success in L. zollingeri, which depends on managed semi-natural conditions. Land management abandonment, which has increased shaded and covered conditions in artificial forest edge meadows and open forest floors, might promote a rapid reduction in the populations of such dwarf plants.
- plant–pollinator interaction
- pollen receipt
- pollinator functional complementarity
- tubular flower
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science