Reproductive interference (RI) refers to negative interspecific interactions in which the reproductive activities of one species directly reduce the reproductive success of another species. RI can be observed in various events in plant reproductive processes, such as stigma clogging and pollen allelopathy. The most conspicuous feature of RI is its positive frequency dependence and its self-reinforcing impact via positive feedback: when two species exert RI on one another, the more abundant species exerts a more intense adverse effect on the reproductive success of the other and then becomes more abundant. Therefore, two species that exert RI on each other essentially cannot co-exist, even if the interfering effect is subtle. Increasing numbers of studies have verified the effects of RI in plants, but the phenomenon is still misunderstood. Here, we present a theoretical outline of RI, discriminating it from hybridization or pollen competition, and address its pivotal importance in the relationships between invasive plants and native relatives, the exclusive distributions of closely related species, and character displacement between these species.
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