Seed production and pre-dispersal reproductive losses in the narrow endemic Euphorbia pedroi (Euphorbiaceae)

Mário Boieiro, Carla Rego, Artur R.M. Serrano, Xavier Espadaler

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Euphorbia pedroi is a narrow endemic species with three known populations located in coastal areas of western Portugal. This study focused on the reproductive biology of this species from flowering to dispersal, aiming to identify the factors causing decrease in seed production potential and to assess the spatio-temporal patterns of seed production at the individual and population levels. The abortion of reproductive structures, particularly seeds, represented a major fraction of losses in the potential seed production of E. pedroi. Moth larvae destroyed a variable proportion of cyathia in a large number of plants from the two populations regardless of their degree of isolation. Furthermore, generalist and specialist pre-dispersal seed predators were responsible for temporally variable seed losses unrelated with variables indicative of plant size and fecundity, and showing no consistency at the individual level. Specialist seed-wasps inflicted the highest losses to E. pedroi and their impact was intimately associated with the magnitude of yearly variation in seed production. This finding highlights the role of the inter-annual variation in seed production as a key feature in this plant-seed predator system. The effect of the two groups of seed predators on the reproductive output of E. pedroi was additive and those insects do not seem to exert an important selective pressure on the traits studied. The proportion of intact seeds produced by E. pedroi differed between locations, but not between individuals within each population, highlighting the major contribution of larger plants to the seed pool. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-590
JournalPlant Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • Andromonoecy
  • Arrábida
  • Fruit and seed abortion
  • Insect seed predation
  • Reproductive success


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