2016 update: Mating compatibility in remnants

In 2016, we continued our ongoing study of mating compatibility in the remnants that began in 2014. This experiment is designed to assess population level compatibility and to investigate whether the difference in the timing of flowering (phenology) and the distance between plants predict whether mating will be successful, or the cross will be compatible. This year, we randomly selected 10 focal plants from remnant populations and chose their four nearest neighbors to be pollen donors.

We conducted this study in six remnant populations with approximately ten focal plants at each for a total of 279 pairwise crosses. Occasionally we were unable to collect pollen from the four nearest neighbors of the focal plant because they flowered asynchronously with the focal plant, and in those cases we chose the nest nearest individual available. Excluding all other pollinators, we performed hand-crosses between the focal plants and their pollen donors and assessed style persistence the following day to evaluate the compatibility of each cross.

We observed wide variation in compatibility among sites, with focal plants at some sites compatible with an average of 90% of their nearby neighbors and only 64% at others. Further analysis will tell what relationship this pattern might have with individuals’ synchrony of flowering and proximity to mates!

We exclude pollinators from our focal plants and pollen donors using bridal veil material, an evocative method rich with symbolism of purity and loss of innocence.

Start year: 2014

Location: large remnant populations in Solem Township, Minnesota

Data collected: We collected data about the identities of the individuals and outcome of crosses on paper datasheets. The phenology data was collected electronically. We used GPS units to collect spatial data about individuals’ location and isolation.

Products: We entered the data from 2016 and it is ready to be compiled and analyzed with the 2014 and 2015 datasets.

You can find more information about our compatibility experiment and links to previous flog posts regarding this experiment at the background page for the experiment.


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