Ecol Lett 2019 Jul 14;22(7):1163-1173. Epub 2019 May 14.
Laboratorio Nacional de Análisis y Síntesis Ecológica (LANASE), Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores Unidad Morelia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Morelia, Michoacán, 58190, México.
Most of the world's land surface is currently under human use and natural habitats remain as fragmented samples of the original landscapes. Measuring the quality of plant progeny sired in these pervasive environments represents a fundamental endeavour for predicting the evolutionary potential of plant populations remaining in fragmented habitats and thus their ability to adapt to changing environments. By means of hierarchical and phylogenetically independent meta-analyses we reviewed habitat fragmentation effects on the genetic and biological characteristics of progenies across 179 plant species. Progeny sired in fragmented habitats showed overall genetic erosion in contrast with progeny sired in continuous habitats, with the exception of plants pollinated by vertebrates. Similarly, plant progeny in fragmented habitats showed reduced germination, survival and growth. Habitat fragmentation had stronger negative effects on the progeny vigour of outcrossing- than mixed-mating plant species, except for vertebrate-pollinated species. Finally, we observed that increased inbreeding coefficients due to fragmentation correlated negatively with progeny vigour. Our findings reveal a gloomy future for angiosperms remaining in fragmented habitats as fewer sired progeny of lower quality may decrease recruitment of plant populations, thereby increasing their probability of extinction.