Population status and reproductive success of an endangered epiphytic orchid in a fragmented landscape

Victor Parra-Tabla, Carlos F. Vargas, Celina Naval, Luz M. Calvo, Jeff Ollerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Habitat fragmentation and disturbance are two of the most significant drivers of species extinctions in plant populations. The degree of impact of fragmentation on plant populations depends on the level of specificity of plant-animal interactions, as well as on the availability of suitable sites for seedling recruitment. In this study, we describe the population density and structure, pollen limitation and reproductive success of the endangered tropical orchid Myrmecophila christinae, an epiphytic species with a specialized pollination system. We surveyed a total of 14 populations located in a fragmented landscape. Seedling density was related to habitat disturbance and host plant density; while density of juveniles was related to density of adults. Adult and total individual densities were related to habitat affectation. We also found that fragments <1ha had significantly fewer seedlings, as well as an over-representation of large adults. On the other hand, fruit production was higher in fragments >10ha, and fruit set was significantly lower in highly disturbed fragments. Hand pollination experiments showed that M. christinae was pollen limited in all the studied populations, suggesting that pollen limitation is unrelated to habitat disturbance. Overall, our results suggest that fragmentation has affected key demographic features of M. christinae, including reproduction and recruitment. © 2011 The Author(s). Journal compilation © 2011 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)640-647
Number of pages575
JournalBiotropica
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2011

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