There is increasing evidence that human disturbance can negatively impact plant-pollinator interactions such as outcross pollination. We present a meta-analysis of 22 studies involving 27 plant species showing a significant reduction in the proportion of seeds outcrossed in response to anthropogenic habitat modifications. We discuss the evolutionary consequences of disturbance on plant mating systems, and in particular whether reproductive assurance through selfing effectively compensates for reduced outcrossing. The extent to which disturbance reduces pollinator versus mate availability could generate diverse selective forces on reproductive traits. Investigating how anthropogenic change influences plant mating will lead to new opportunities for better understanding of how mating systems evolve, as well as of the ecological and evolutionary consequences of human activities and how to mitigate them.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) for supporting the “Understanding the Paradox of Mixed Mating Systems” working group from which this paper emerged; Jon Auman, Karen Henry, Hilmar Lapp and Jeff Sturkey at NESCent for logistic support; Paula Jean Tonsor for the pollination treatment artwork ( Box 1 ); Joe Hereford for enjoyable discussions; Mark van Kleunen for comments on the manuscript; the United States National Science Foundation for grants to SK NSF DEB 0324764; and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada for Discovery Grants to MOJ, RS, EE and CGE.