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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Do plant ploidy and pollinator tongue length interact to cause low seed yield in red clover?

Hederstrom, Veronica; Rundlof, Maj; Birgersson, Goran; Larsson, Mattias C.; Balkenius, Anna; Lankinen, Asa

Abstract

The loss of long-tongued pollinator species and dominance of a few short-tongued generalist species, related to agricultural intensification in recent decades, may have consequences for the quality, quantity, and stability of yields in insect-pollinated crops. Interestingly, the changes in pollinator community coincide with an increase in poor and variable seed yield in red clover, an important crop for green manure and forage production. However, to date we lack a holistic understanding of the factors that drive seed yield in red clover crops. To remedy this, we related plant and pollinator traits to pollinator visitation, behavior, and pollination efficiency in four diploid and five tetraploid red clover cultivars during three years in a common garden setting. Tetraploid cultivars produced 52% fewer seeds and 41% lower seed weight per flower head compared with diploid cultivars. They also had fewer flower heads per plant, larger florets, and lower pollen viability than diploids. Pollinator species with shorter tongues visited diploid cultivars more frequently than tetraploid cultivars. Pollinator species with longer tongues deposited more pollen and showed higher pollination efficiency in terms of seeds produced after single visits. Our results suggest that while both diploid and tetraploid red clover cultivars benefit from the presence of longer-tongued pollinator species, seed yield in tetraploid cultivars may be more sensitive to the loss of these bumble bee species in intensively cultivated agricultural landscapes.

Keywords

ploidy; pollinator efficiency; pollinator preference; pollinator tongue length; Trifolium pratense

Published in

Ecosphere
2021, volume: 12, number: 3, article number: e03416
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Hederström, Veronica
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology
Hederström, Veronica
Lund University
Rundlof, Maj
Lund University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology
Balkenius, Anna
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology
Balkenius, Anna
Lund University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3416

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/111833