Plants, position and pollination: Planting arrangement and pollination limitation in a revegetated eucalypt woodland

Kimberly P. McCallum, Martin F. Breed, Andrew J. Lowe, David C. Paton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The spatial arrangement of plants is a key determinant of pollination services in natural ecosystems. Despite this, plant arrangements are rarely considered an important characteristic of revegetated communities and this may be limiting successful pollination dynamics in these re-created systems. We assessed if aggregated South Australian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon, F. Muell) had greater pollination success than more dispersed trees by measuring fruit set, seed production and germination in a revegetated eucalypt woodland. The proportion of buds that developed into fruit (fruit set) was similar between aggregated (five flowering Blue Gum within 30 m) and dispersed (no flowering Blue Gum within 30 m) trees (<14%). Aggregated and dispersed trees produced a similar number of seeds per fruit in 2015, when fewer trees flowered and those that flowered produced fewer flowers (ca 8 seeds/fruit). In 2016, when flowering was more abundant, aggregated trees produced more seeds per fruit than dispersed trees (12 seeds/fruit compared to 4 seeds/fruit). Despite differences in seed number, there was no difference in the quality of seed produced, indicating outcrossed pollen was received by both aggregated and dispersed trees. Although outcrossing was likely, this did not prevent pollination limitation, with the addition of outcrossed pollen increasing fruit and seed set for trees in both arrangements. Consequently, we propose that planting individuals of the same species (conspecifics) in clumps, rather than intermixing species, can increase seed set in revegetated eucalypts, particularly in good flowering years. However, aggregated plantings will be most effective if the needs and foraging behaviour of pollinators are also considered, to attract and sustain pollinators in revegetated systems, thereby minimizing the risk of pollination limitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-230
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Management and Restoration
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

Keywords

  • aggregation
  • flowering
  • plant spatial pattern
  • restoration
  • revegetation design
  • seed production

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