Mating in seed plants arises from interactions between plant traits and the environmental and demographic context in which individuals reside. These interactions commonly cause nonrandom mating, including selfing and promiscuous outcrossing within local neighborhoods. Shared features of seed plants, specifically immobility, hermaphroditism, and modularity, shape the essential character of mating mediated by animals, wind, and water. In addition, diverse floral strategies promote cross- and self-mating, depending on environmental circumstances. Extrinsic ecological factors influence all stages of the mating process—pollination, pollen-tube growth, ovule fertilization—as well as seed development, determining offspring quantity and quality. Traditionally, measures of plant mating systems have focused on a single axis of variation, the maternal outcrossing rate. Instead, we argue for an expanded perspective encompassing mating portfolios, which include all offspring to which individuals contribute genetically as maternal or paternal parents. This approach should expose key ecological determinants of mating-system variation and their evolutionary consequences.


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