Are pollinators and seed predators selective agents on flower color in Gentiana lutea?
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Animals which interact with plants often cause selective pressures on plant traits. Flower color variation within a species might be shaped by the action of animals feeding on the plant species. Pollinators might exert natural selection on color if flower color is related to their foraging efficiency. For example, some pollinator species might require more time to detect particular colors. If that is the case, flower color might have evolved as a pollination exploitation barrier—ensuring that flowers are more visited by the most efficient pollinators. In addition, non-pollinator agents such as predispersal seed predators may select on flower color, if color indicates food resources (seeds) or if color is related to deterrent compounds. We address selection on flower color in a population of Gentiana lutea where color varies among individuals from yellow to orange. We hypothesize that opposed selection from mutualists (pollinators) and antagonists (predispersal seed predators) maintains flower color variation in this population. By means of path analysis we addressed the role of both interactors in flower color selection. We found that selection acts on flower color, mediated by both pollinators and seed predators. Both agents favored yellow-flowered individuals, thus selection by pollinators and seed predators does not maintain flower color variation in this population.
KeywordsGentiana lutea Flower color polymorphism Phenotypic selection Pollinators Predispersal seed predators SEM
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