Journal Article

Extreme variation in floral characters and its consequences for pollinator attraction among populations of an Andean cactus

Boris O. Schlumpberger, Andrea A. Cocucci, Marcela Moré, Alicia N. Sérsic and Robert A. Raguso

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 103, issue 9, pages 1489-1500
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online April 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp075
Extreme variation in floral characters and its consequences for pollinator attraction among populations of an Andean cactus

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and aims

A South American cactus species, Echinopsis ancistrophora (Cactaceae), with dramatic among-population variation in floral traits is presented.

Methods

Eleven populations of E. ancistrophora were studied in their habitats in northern Argentina, and comparisons were made of relevant floral traits such as depth, stigma position, nectar volume and sugar concentration, and anthesis time. Diurnal and nocturnal pollinator assemblages were evaluated for populations with different floral trait combinations.

Key Results

Remarkable geographical variations in floral traits were recorded among the 11 populations throughout the distribution range of E. ancistrophora, with flower lengths ranging from 4·5 to 24·1 cm. Other floral traits associated with pollinator attraction also varied in a population-specific manner, in concert with floral depth. Populations with the shortest flowers showed morning anthesis and those with the longest flowers opened at dusk, whereas those with flowers of intermediate length opened at unusual times (2300–0600 h). Nectar production varied non-linearly with floral length; it was absent to low (population means up to 15 µL) in short- to intermediate-length flowers, but was high (population means up to 170 µL) in the longest tubed flowers. Evidence from light-trapping of moths, pollen carriage on their bodies and moth scale deposition on stigmas suggests that sphingid pollination is prevalent only in the four populations with the longest flowers, in which floral morphological traits and nectar volumes match the classic expectations for the hawkmoth pollination syndrome. All other populations, with flowers 4·5–15 cm long, were pollinated exclusively by solitary bees.

Conclusions

The results suggest incipient differentiation at the population level and local adaptation to either bee or hawkmoth (potentially plus bee) pollination.

Keywords: Pollination; floral biology; Echinopsis ancistrophora; cactus; Cactaceae; hawkmoth; bee

Journal Article.  8167 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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