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Demographic and spatial determinants of hybridization rate

Klein, Etienne K., Lagache‐Navarro, Lélia, Petit, Rémy J.
The journal of ecology 2017 v.105 no.1 pp. 29-38
asymmetry, fecundity, hybridization, introduced plants, models, pollen, pollen flow, prediction, species diversity
Hybridization is a key evolutionary process with major consequences for conservation and speciation. However, sexual barriers interact with the local context to determine hybridization rates in a way that is still poorly explored. For instance, in the context of an expanding or introduced plant population, where a few individuals are isolated in populations dominated by heterospecific individuals, what is the hybridization potential? To obtain baseline predictions on hybridization rate between two species differing in abundance and to evaluate the effect of pollen limitation, we first used a mean‐field model. We then explored a spatially explicit individual‐based mating model relying on pollen dispersal kernels to predict hybridization rates in a mixed‐species stand, under different scenarios for (i) the strength of sexual barriers; (ii) the spatial distribution of individuals within the site; (iii) the variation in individual fecundity; and (iv) the magnitude, shape and asymmetry of pollen dispersal kernels. Pollen limitation was shown to have the potential to greatly increase hybridization rates. Similarly, fine‐scale variation in species composition can result in elevated hybridization rates compared to mean‐field predictions, especially with strong sexual barriers. However, species clustering in combination with reduced pollen dispersal has the opposite effect, protecting from hybridization. Synthesis. Our simulation results show that variation of the pollen pool composition at the scale of individuals or stigmas due to spatial configurations or pollen limitation can substantially modify hybridization rates. We explain this by the disproportionate effect of some pollen environments on average hybridization rates. This suggests thoroughly evaluating individual behaviour in terms of hybridization, especially for rare or patchy species.