Geographic consistency and variation in conflicting selection generated by pollinators and seed predators

Shi Guo Sun, Scott Armbruster, Shuang-Quan Huang

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Abstract

Backgrounds and Aims - Floral traits that attract pollinators may also attract seed predators, which, in turn, may generate conflicting natural selection on such traits. Although such selection trade-offs are expected to vary geographically, few studies have investigated selection mediated by pollinators and seed predators across a geographic mosaic of environments and floral variation.

Methods -
 Floral traits were investigated in 14 populations of the bumblebee-pollinated herb, Pedicularis rex, in which tubular flowers are subtended by cupular bracts holding rain water. To study potentially conflicting selection on floral traits generated by pollinators and florivores, we measured stigmatic pollen loads, initial seed set, pre-dispersal seed predation, and final viable-seed production in 12-14 populations in the field.

Key Results - GLM analyses indicated that the pollen load on stigmas was positively related to the exsertion of the corolla beyond the cupular bracts and size of the lower corolla lip, but so too was the rate of seed predation, creating conflicting selection on both floral traits. A geographic mosaic of selection mediated by seed predators, but not pollinators, was indicated by significant variation in levels of seed predation and the inclusion of 2-, 3- and 4-way interaction terms between population and seed predation in the best model (lowest AICc) explaining final seed production.

Conclusions - These results indicate opposing selection in operation: pollinators generated selection for greater floral exsertion beyond the bracts, but seed predators generated selection for reduced exsertion above the protective pools of water, although the strength of the latter varied across populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Botany
Volume118
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

Keywords

  • Corolla-tube length
  • cupular bract
  • geographic selection mosaic
  • Pedicularis rex
  • pre-dispersal seed predation
  • phenotypic selection analysis
  • stugmatic pollen load
  • seed survival

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