We examined how population structure affects seed set and recruitment in the dioecious plant Antennaria dioica, which is a declining species inhabiting semi-natural grasslands in Sweden. Flowering and sex ratio in A. dioica were studied over 4 y at a local (1.2 km2) scale and over 1 y at a regional (742 km2) scale in southern Sweden. Antennaria dioica was also hand-pollinated during 2y to examine whether sex ratios, male abundance, and distance to nearest male influence the degree of pollen limitation. Seed-sowing experiments were conducted to assess whether recruitment is limited by seed or microsite availability. There was a considerable spatio-temporal variation in both flowering and sex ratios. The regional scale survey showed that patch size and number of patches per site were positively correlated, and small patches of A.dioica tended to have biased sex ratios. Experimental hand-pollinations showed that the degree of pollen limitation increased with increasingly female-biased sex ratios in the closest vicinity of the experimental plants. Thus, even though A. dioica is pollinated by many different insects, a fragmented population structure has a large influence on reproductive performance of A. dioica. The seed-sowing experiments showed that recruitment is limited by a combination of seed and microsite availability. It is therefore plausible that reduced seed production due to pollen limitation translates into reduced recruitment. The results from the local and the regional scale indicate that a large fraction of local patches and populations of A. dioica have decreased sexual reproduction. The conclusion is that A. dioica is likely to be particularly sensitive to habitat fragmentation.
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Vol. 14 • No. 3