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Fitness costs of delayed pollination in a mixed-mating plant

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Background - To predict the evolutionary consequences of pollinator declines, we need to understand the evolution of delayed autonomous self-pollination, which is expected to evolve as a mechanism of reproductive assurance when cross-pollination becomes unreliable. This involves estimating the costs of increased levels of selfing as well as those associated with floral senescence.

Methods - We studied the mechanisms and costs of delayed self-pollination in the mixed-mating vine Dalechampia scandens (Euphorbiaceae) by first assessing among-population variation in herkogamy and dichogamy, which together determine the rate and timing of autonomous self-pollination. We then tested whether floral longevity responds plastically to delayed pollination. Finally, we assessed the costs of delayed self-pollination in terms of seed number and size, explicitly separating inbreeding depression from effects of floral senescence.

Key results - Herkogamy varied extensively, while variation in dichogamy was more limited. Unpollinated blossoms increased their longevity, but seed quantity and quality decreased with increasing delays in pollination, independently of inbreeding depression.

Conclusions - In Dalechampia scandens, earlier autonomous selfing is facilitated by reduced herkogamy rather than reduced protogyny, providing reproductive assurance while maintaining the possibility for outcrossing events. Effective early autonomous self-pollination may evolve under reduced cross-pollination reliability in response to costs associated with floral senescence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869–881
JournalAnnals of Botany
Issue number5
Early online date23 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2019


  • Fitness costs of delayed pollination in a mixed-mating plant

    Rights statement: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Annals of Botany following peer review. The version of record Laura S. Hildesheim, Øystein H. Opedal, W. Scott Armbruster & Christophe Pélabon (2019). 'Fitness costs of delayed pollination in a mixed-mating plant'. Annals of Botany. DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcz141, is available online at:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 1.05 MB, PDF document

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