Reproductive susceptibility of prairie plants to habitat fragmentation
Many plants in fragmented prairie habitat experience reproductive failure. Self-incompatibility (SI) is the trait that is most consistently associated with reproductive susceptibility to habitat fragmentation. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 60% of plant species have some kind of SI system. The tallgrass prairie is one of the most fragmented habitats in the world, but the proportion of prairie plants with SI is unknown. Also, we do not know the extent to which reproduction is susceptible to habitat fragmentation for most plant species. For this project you will determine the SI system (self-compatible or self-incompatible) in a sample of common plants in our study area. Experiments will be designed, in collaboration with the mentor, to test the reproductive susceptibility to habitat fragmentation of these species. Such experiments will involve pollen exclusion and pollen supplementation treatments. Research will occur in remnant prairies in our study site in western Minnesota.
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