Patterns of pollen and resource limitation of fruit production in Vaccinium uliginosum and V. vitis-idaea in Interior Alaska.
ABSTRACT : Many recent studies assessing fruit productivity of plants in the boreal forest focus on interannual variability across a forested region, rather than on environmental variability within the forest. Frequency and severity of wildfires in the boreal forest affect soil moisture, canopy, and community structure at the landscape level, all of which may influence overall fruit production at a site directly or indirectly. We evaluated how fruit production in two boreal shrubs, Vaccinium uliginosum (blueberry) and V. vitis-idaea (lingonberry), was explained by factors associated with resource availability (such as canopy cover and soil conditions) and pollen limitation (such as floral resources for pollinators and pollen deposition) across boreal forest sites of Interior Alaska in 2017. We classified our study sites into upland and lowland sites, which differed in elevation, soil moisture, and active layer. We found that resource and pollen limitation differed between the two species and between uplands and lowlands. Lingonberry was more pollen limited than blueberry, and plants in lowland sites were more pollen limited relative to other sites while plants in upland sites were relatively more resource limited. Additionally, canopy cover had a significant negative effect in upland sites on a ramet's investment in reproductive tissues and leaves versus structural growth, but little effect in lowland sites. These results point to importance of including pollinator service as well as resource availability in predictions for changes in berry abundance.
The Bonanza Creek LTER is a member of the U.S. LTER Network which is supported by the National Science Foundation (DEB-1636476) and by the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station (RJVA-PNW-01-JV-11261952-231). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.