Journal Article

Implications of a long-term, pollinator-mediated selection on floral traits in a generalist herb

Alfonso M. Sánchez-Lafuente and Raquel Parra

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 104, issue 4, pages 689-701
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp140
Implications of a long-term, pollinator-mediated selection on floral traits in a generalist herb

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

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Background and Aims

The phenotypic selection of a diverse insect assemblage was studied on a generalist plant species (Paeonia broteroi) in ten flowering seasons, with tests for whether visitor preferences for plants with larger flowers eventually translated into significant differences among plants in visitation rates, seed production, seed mass, seed germination and seedling survival.

Methods

Selection gradients were used to assess if selection on flower size contributed to explain differences in visitation rates, seed production and seed mass. First, independent analyses were carried out for each season; then for the ten season as a whole. Seedling emergence and survival were assessed by generalized linear models.

Key Results

Directional selection was found on flower size through visitation rates and seed production, and stabilizing selection through seed mass. Thus, larger flowers were more visited, and produced more, but lighter seeds, than smaller flowers. The results suggest a conflicting selection on flower size through seed number and size. Floral integration found in the study populations was larger than that in populations of a distant region. Finally, seed size did not influence seedling emergence and survival; thus, any advantages of seed size may be constrained under natural conditions before plants become reproductive individuals.

Conclusions

Plants with larger flowers may be benefited by producing more lighter seeds than fewer heavier ones, as they may contribute disproportionately to the seed bank, and have better chances that any descendant could eventually recruit. However, it seems unlikely that differences in flower size and integration found among populations in different regions could have been originated by rapid evolutionary change. First, because of the conflicting selection described; second, because of the remarkably low seedling survival found under natural conditions. Consequently, the influence of pollinator selection alone does not seem to explain differences in flower size and integration.

Keywords: Paeonia broteroi; long-term selection; conflicting selection; flower size; seed production; generalist pollination

Journal Article.  9039 words.  Illustrated.

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

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