A Study of the Impact of an Introduced Herbivore on Pollinator-mediated Interactions and Female Fitness in 'Lythrum salicaria'

Title: A Study of the Impact of an Introduced Herbivore on Pollinator-mediated Interactions and Female Fitness in 'Lythrum salicaria'
Authors: Russell-Mercier, Jake L.
Date: 2013
Abstract: Herbivory can have many effects on plant fitness, including altering plant-pollinator interactions and sexual reproduction in angiosperms. Pollinator-mediated interactions may be impacted when herbivores alter plant traits, such as floral display size, that can influence pollinator visitation rates, and, ultimately, the reproductive component of plant fitness. Here I describe an investigation into the indirect effects of feeding by beetles released as a biological control agent, Galerucella calmariensis and G. pusilla, on plant-pollinator interactions and reproductive output in the invasive plant Lythrum salicaria L. (purple loosestrife). During the summer of 2011, three treatments (low, ambient and mechanical herbivory) were applied to 105 plants during the pre-flowering period of growth. At the onset of flowering, a series of pollinator observations were conducted over the course of approximately 1.5 weeks. Several aspects of floral display were affected by the herbivory treatments, including increased inflorescence and flower production in the ambient and mechanical herbivory treatments, relative to the low herbivory treatment. Treatment type did not have a significant effect on the number of pollinator foraging bouts, but had marginally significant effects on the number of flowers probed per pollinator foraging bout and per 30-minutes. Moreover, treatment had a significant effect on the number of switches among the inflorescences on a single plant. I discuss the possibility that the differences in pollinator visitation were mediated by differences in the architecture and the size of floral display. There were no detectable differences in fruit or seed production (i.e., female fitness) among treatments. However, as I discuss, differences in pollinator visitation may affect other unmeasured aspects of fitness, such as the level of inbreeding or the number of seeds sired through male function.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/24007
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -