Plant Biogeography

Self-pollination and expanding range

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Science  12 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6240, pp. 1219
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6240.1219-b

Species ranges are larger in plants that are able to self-pollinate than in those that must receive pollen from another individual, such as these dwarf monkey flowers in Oregon

PHOTO: © DENNIS FRATES/ALAMY

The mating system of a plant species may play an important role in determining its geographic range size. Grossenbacher et al. compared the range size of self-pollinating plant species with the ranges of closely related outcrossing species. They found that selfing species tended to have the wider geographic ranges, and that this tendency increased with the time since a selfing species evolutionarily diverged from its outcrossing relative. Traits that improve mating success may be at least as important as other traits, such as dispersal ability, in helping plants to increase their range size and colonize new areas.

Ecol. Lett. 10.1111/ele.12449 (2015).

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