Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 849–868 | Cite as

Floral divergence in closely related Leucospermum tottum (Proteaceae) varieties pollinated by birds and long-proboscid flies

  • Christopher Michael Johnson
  • Tianhua He
  • Anton Pauw
Original Paper


The Proteaceae are renowned for their floral diversity but surprisingly the role of pollinators in driving evolutionary divergence in this family has been underexplored. Here we focus on recently diverged taxa to gain insight into the processes that generate diversity by testing whether two varieties of Leucospermum tottum might have originated by pollinator mediated adaptive divergence. L. tottum var. tottum has pale salmon-coloured horizontally-oriented flowers, long nectar tubes, and small volumes of concentrated nectar. L. tottum var. glabrum has red and yellow vertically oriented flowers, short nectar tubes, and large volumes of dilute nectar. Despite the morphological divergence, the varieties are indistinguishable using eight molecular markers, indicating a very early stage of differentiation. Consistent with their morphologies, L. tottum var. tottum is pollinated by long-proboscid flies (Philoliche rostrata and Philoliche gulosa), Cape sugarbirds (Promerops cafer), and, to a lesser extent, by Orange-breasted sunbirds (Anthobaphes violacea), whereas, L. tottum var. glabrum is pollinated only by Orange-breasted sunbirds. A. violacea visits both varieties, but makes more frequent contact with pollen presenters when foraging on L. tottum var. glabrum. The exclusion of birds caused a steeper reduction in seed production in L. tottum var. glabrum than in L. tottum var. tottum, consistent with specialization for bird-pollination in this variety. Additionally, L. tottum var. glabrum exhibits autogamy, whereas L. tottum var. tottum does not. Floral divergence between the two L. tottum varieties corresponds with divergence in pollinator use.


Adaptive divergence Bird-pollination Leucospermum tottum Long-proboscid fly pollination Pollinator driven speciation Pollinator shifts Reproductive assurance 



We thank Clive Kerr, The Mountain Club of South Africa, and Cape Nature for allowing access to the sites involved in this study, and Dr. Sim Lin Lim for assisting in assembling DNA sequence dataset and Marinus de Jager for help with the observational data. Additionally we thank Stellenbosch University for funding as well as Kari Segraves and Timo van der Neit for recommendations on a prior draft which improved this study. This study was partially supported by the Australian Research Council (DP120103389).

Supplementary material

10682_2014_9712_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 21 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Michael Johnson
    • 1
  • Tianhua He
    • 2
  • Anton Pauw
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Environment and AgricultureCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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