Pollination limitation to reproductive success in the Missouri evening primrose, Oenothera macrocarpa (Onagraceae)


Habitat fragmentation may result in plant populations that are less attractive to pollinators and thus susceptible to reduced reproductive output due to pollination limitation. Pollination limitation was investigated in three Missouri populations of Oenothera macrocarpa, a hawk-moth-pollinated, perennial herb. The populations represented extremes in size and habitat quality. Following supplemental pollination, mean fertilization success (proportion of ovules fertilized) across populations increased from 24.3 to 44.8% and mean seed set (proportion of ovules that matured into seed) increased from 14.7 to 27.9%. These increases were statistically significant in two of the three populations. Failure to achieve 100% fertilization and seed set following supplementation indicates that other factors, in addition to pollination, were limiting to female reproductive success. Fruit set was pollination limited in only one population. Fruits matured with as few as one seed, suggesting that fruit set was not resource limited. The degree of pollination limitation was greatest in the most disturbed population. The population located in the highest-quality habitat was not significantly pollination limited. This suggests that pollination limitation is occurring, at least in part, because of reduced pollinator activity in degraded habitats.



Document Type





Glades, Habitat fragmentation, Hawk moth pollination, Oenothera, Onagraccae, Pollination limitation, Sphingidae

Publication Date


Journal Title

American Journal of Botany