Interactive Effects Between Donor and Recipient Species Mediate Fitness Costs of Heterospecific Pollen Receipt in a Co-Flowering Community

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Evaluation of pollen transfer in wild plant communities revealing heterospecific pollen receipt is common, yet experimental hand pollinations have revealed high among-species variation in the magnitude of its effect on recipient fitness. The causes of this among-species variation are unknown, however, prompting the investigation of underlying factors. Here, we conducted a hand-pollination experiment with ten co-flowering species to determine whether the effects of heterospecific pollen receipt are mediated by the pollen donor or recipient species alone, or whether the effects are determined by the interaction between them. We further assessed species traits potentially mediating interactive effects in heterospecific pollen receipt by evaluating the relationship between heterospecific pollen effect size and three different predictors reflecting a unique combination of pollen donor and recipient characteristics. Our results show, for the first time, that the magnitude of the heterospecific pollen receipt effect is determined by the specific combination of donor and recipient species (i.e., interactive effects). However, we were unable to uncover the specific combination of traits mediating these effects. Overall, our study provides strong evidence that an understanding of heterospecific pollen receipt effects based on recipient or donor characteristics alone may be insufficient. This study is an important step toward an understanding of consequences of heterospecific pollen receipt in co-flowering communities.