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      Comparative assessment of reproductive traits across different habitats in the endangered Webb’s hyacinth (Bellevalia webbiana Parl.)

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          To pursue a proper conservation of narrow endemic species, the knowledge of basic reproductive strategies is crucial to plan adequate conservation activities. One of the most evolutionarily relevant and threatened Italian endemic is the Webb’s hyacinth (Bellevalia webbiana Parl.). As the reproductive behaviour of this species and its connection with human impact are currently unknown, the aim of this study was to characterise the reproductive traits of the Webb’s hyacinth in contrasting habitats. All the 5 known richest populations across the species range were investigated. Their reproductive strategies were inferred by measuring inflorescence height, fruit set, seed set and P/O ratio. Reproductive features varied greatly amongst stands and also in relation to the degree of human disturbance. However, in all cases, seed sets showed low values. P/O values point towards full xenogamy and it is concluded that effective cross-pollination may be the main mode of sexual reproduction in Bellevalia webbiana. The reasons for the low reproductive performances may reside in pollen limitation, Allee effect and/or intrinsic reduced fertility of the species. Given this scenario, conservation efforts for Webb’s hyacinth should focus on maintaining large and relatively dense populations, to guarantee some chance of in situ survival.

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          Urbanization, Biodiversity, and Conservation

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            Plant reproductive susceptibility to habitat fragmentation: review and synthesis through a meta-analysis.

            The loss and fragmentation of natural habitats by human activities are pervasive phenomena in terrestrial ecosystems across the Earth and the main driving forces behind current biodiversity loss. Animal-mediated pollination is a key process for the sexual reproduction of most extant flowering plants, and the one most consistently studied in the context of habitat fragmentation. By means of a meta-analysis we quantitatively reviewed the results from independent fragmentation studies throughout the last two decades, with the aim of testing whether pollination and reproduction of plant species may be differentially susceptible to habitat fragmentation depending on certain reproductive traits that typify the relationship with and the degree of dependence on their pollinators. We found an overall large and negative effect of fragmentation on pollination and on plant reproduction. The compatibility system of plants, which reflects the degree of dependence on pollinator mutualism, was the only reproductive trait that explained the differences among the species' effect sizes. Furthermore, a highly significant correlation between the effect sizes of fragmentation on pollination and reproductive success suggests that the most proximate cause of reproductive impairment in fragmented habitats may be pollination limitation. We discuss the conservation implications of these findings and give some suggestions for future research into this area.
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              POLLEN LIMITATION OF PLANT REPRODUCTION: ECOLOGICAL AND EVOLUTIONARY CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                January 05 2018
                January 05 2018
                : 24
                : 81-92
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.24.20650
                © 2018

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