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Patterns of pollen dispersal and mating in a population of the clonal plant Sagittaria latifolia


Dorken, Marcel; Stephens, Samantha; van Kleunen, Mark (2020), Patterns of pollen dispersal and mating in a population of the clonal plant Sagittaria latifolia, Dryad, Dataset,


1) Increased plant size is generally expected to have negative consequences for mating by increasing pollen transfer between flowers of the same plant. Such geitonogamous self-pollination would then reduce sexual fitness through both female and male function. However, recent theoretical work has indicated that when plants grow clonally, the outward expansion of plants caused by clonal growth might have positive effects on siring without substantially increasing rates of self-pollination.

2) We investigated patterns of pollen dispersal, selfing, and siring in a monoecious population of the clonal plant Sagittaria latifolia, in which clones varied in size and the extent of intermingling with other clones. A spatially-explicit statistical model based on the inferred pollen-dispersal kernel was constructed to examine the mechanisms underlying observed mating patterns.

3) Pollen dispersal typically occurred over distances that exceeded the spatial extent of clones. There was a positive association between clone size (measured as the number of ramets per genet) and the likelihood that clones were intermingled with the shoots of other clones. Together, these patterns of pollen dispersal and clonal intermingling resulted in a weak positive association between clone size and selfing rates and a strong positive association between clone size and outcross siring success. These patterns were replicated in the spatially-explicit model, indicating that the intermingling of clones is an important determinant of mating patterns in this population.

4) Synthesis. Our study provides the first examination of the pollen dispersal kernel for a clonal plant. It is the first study providing empirical support for model predictions that potentially negative effects of increased selfing in large clones might be offset by increased siring success. This implies that the negative consequences of becoming large do not necessarily apply to clonal plants.


Details of the methods are provided in the associated publication, its supporting information, and the Rmd files accompanying the data. Briefly, phenological data, leaf tissue, and seeds were collected from 506 shoots in an isolated, natural population of the clonal emergent aquatic plant Sagittaria latifolia. Shoots were mapped using traingulation. Leaves and seeds were genotyped using seven SSR loci to enable mapping of the location of clones (genets) and the identification of sires. Interplant mating distances were used to infer the pollen-dispersal kernel (details of the methodology are given in Supporting Information Methods S1). Patterns of clonal intermingling were assessed using analysis of spatial data combined with inferred identities of genets (i.e., multi-locus lineages; details of the approach are given in Supporting Information Methods S2 and S3). Selfing rates were calculated for each shoot and then averaged across all shoots per genet using MLTR software (v. 3.4; Ritland, 2002). Paternity was inferred using Colony2 software (v.; Jones & Wang, 2010; Wang 2004, 2018). Patterns of selfing and siring were analysed using linear models in R (v. 3.4.4; R Core Team; details provided in Supporting Information Methods S3).

Usage Notes

The data were analysed using R and the three software programs listed in the Methods sections. Analyses of the data using R are replicated in the Supporting Information Methods S1, S2, and S3 and the code provided in the accompanying Rmd files.


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Award: RGPIN-2018-04866

Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung