Does pollinator-mediated selection vary across plant communities?
Interest in the co-evolution of plants and their pollinators dates to Darwin's work on orchids and their moth pollinators.
Currently, pollinators are widely recognized as one important agent of selection on floral traits. Most studies have considered pairwise interactions between one plant and one pollinator, but most plants share pollinators with other co-occurring plant species. Because biotic pollination is critical to reproduction in most angiosperms, incorporating community context into the study of plant-pollinator interactions will improve our understanding of how and why flowering plants co-occur.
We wanted to know: does co-occurring with related species that share pollinators affects selection on floral traits?
To address this question, in the summer of 2015 we measured floral traits and fitness of the four Kern County Clarkia species (C. cylindrica, C. speciosa, C. unguiculata, C. xantiana) in 18 communities where 1, 2, 3, or all 4 species are present.