Spatial variation in bird pollination and its mitigating effects on the genetic diversity of pollen pools accepted by Camellia japonica trees within a population at a landscape level

Abstract

Bird pollination can vary spatially in response to spatial fluctuations in flowering even within plant populations. In this study, we examined the hypothesis that the spatial variation in bird pollination may induce mitigating effects, which maintains or increases genetic diversity of pollen pools at local sites with low flowering densities. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the landscape-level genetic effects within a population of Camellia japonica on the pollen pools accepted by individuals in two reproductive years by using genotypes at eight microsatellite loci of 1323 seeds from 19 seed parents. Regression analyses using the quadratic models of correlated paternity between pollen pools against spatial distances between the seed-parent pairs revealed not only local pollination but also some amount of long-distance pollen dispersal. The genetic diversity of pollen pools accepted by seed parents tended to be negatively related to the densities of flowering individuals near the seed parents during winter (when the effective pollination of C. japonica is mediated mostly by Zosterops japonica). We show that the low density of flowering individuals may induce the expansion of the foraging areas of Z. japonica and consequently increase the genetic diversity of pollen pools. This spatial variation in bird pollination may induce the mitigating effects on the C. japonica population. The comparisons between the two study years indicate that the overall pattern of bird pollination and the genetic effects described here, including the mitigating effects, may be stable over time.

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Data availability

Sampling locations, microsatellite genotypes, and flowering data are available from the Dryad Digital Repository: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.17q550q.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Tsushima District Forest Office for allowing us to conduct this study and Dr Ikutaro Tsuyama and Prof. Peter Smouse for their technical advice. We are grateful to members of the Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Physiology of Nagoya University, who provided field and/or laboratory assistance. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments.

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Correspondence to Nobuhiro Tomaru.

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Nakanishi, A., Takeuchi, T., Ueno, S. et al. Spatial variation in bird pollination and its mitigating effects on the genetic diversity of pollen pools accepted by Camellia japonica trees within a population at a landscape level. Heredity 124, 170–181 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41437-019-0262-7

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