Seed production of plants is rarely maximized, because it is limited by pollen receipt. Previous theories have shown that ecological mechanisms can drive the evolution of pollen limitation. Devaux et al.’s model shows that pollen limitation can also evolve as a by-product of the evolution of the mating system.
At evolutionarily stable equilibria, plants are pollen limited because they produce (i) too many flowers and pay the cost of inbreeding depression due to self-fertilization among simultaneously open flowers or (ii) too few flowers and pay the cost of too few pollinator visits. How ecological and evolutionary mechanisms of pollen limitation interact remains unknown.