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  1. Abstract

    In ecological speciation, incipient species diverge due to natural selection that is ecologically based. In flowering plants, different pollinators could mediate that selection (pollinator-mediated divergent selection) or other features of the environment that differ between habitats of 2 species could do so (environment-mediated divergent selection). Although these mechanisms are well understood, they have received little rigorous testing, as few studies of divergent selection across sites of closely related species include both floral traits that influence pollination and vegetative traits that influence survival. This study employed common gardens in sites of the 2 parental species and a hybrid site, each containing advanced generation hybrids along with the parental species, to test these forms of ecological speciation in plants of the genus Ipomopsis. A total of 3 vegetative traits (specific leaf area, leaf trichomes, and photosynthetic water-use efficiency) and 5 floral traits (corolla length and width, anther insertion, petal color, and nectar production) were analyzed for impacts on fitness components (survival to flowering and seeds per flower, respectively). These traits exhibited strong clines across the elevational gradient in the hybrid zone, with narrower clines in theory reflecting stronger selection or higher genetic variance. Plants with long corollas and inserted anthers had higher seeds per flower at the Ipomopsis tenuituba site, whereas selection favored the reverse condition at the Ipomopsis aggregata site, a signature of divergent selection. In contrast, no divergent selection due to variation in survival was detected on any vegetative trait. Selection within the hybrid zone most closely resembled selection within the I. aggregata site. Across traits, the strength of divergent selection was not significantly correlated with width of the cline, which was better predicted by evolvability (standardized genetic variance). These results support the role of pollinator-­mediated divergent selection in ecological speciation and illustrate the importance of genetic variance in determining divergence across hybrid zones.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 23, 2024
  2. Abstract Background and Aims

    Floral volatiles, visual traits and rewards mediate attraction and defence in plant–pollinator and plant–herbivore interactions, but these floral traits might be altered by global warming through direct effects of temperature or longer-term impacts on plant resources. We examined the effect of warming on floral and leaf volatile emissions, floral morphology, plant height, nectar production, and oviposition by seed predators.


    We used open-top chambers that warmed plants in the field by +2–3 °C on average (+6–11 °C increase in daily maxima) for 2–4 weeks across 1–3 years at three sites in Colorado, USA. Volatiles were sampled from two closely related species of subalpine Ipomopsis with different pollinators: Ipomopsis aggregata ssp. aggregata, visited mainly by hummingbirds, and Ipomopsis tenuituba ssp. tenuituba, often visited by hawkmoths.

    Key Results

    Although warming had no detected effects on leaf volatiles, the daytime floral volatiles of both I. aggregata and I. tenuituba responded in subtle ways to warming, with impacts that depended on the species, site and year. In addition to the long-term effect of warming, temperature at the time of sampling independently affected the floral volatile emissions of I. aggregata during the day and I. tenuituba at night. Warming had little effect on floral morphology for either species and it had no effect on nectar concentration, maximum inflorescence height or flower redness in I. aggregata. However, warming increased nectar production in I. aggregata by 41 %, a response that would attract more hummingbird visits, and it reduced oviposition by fly seed predators by ≥72 %.


    Our results suggest that floral traits can show different levels of plasticity to temperature changes in subalpine environments, with potential effects on animal behaviours that help or hinder plant reproduction. They also illustrate the need for more long-term field warming studies, as shown by responses of floral volatiles in different ways to weeks of warming vs. temperature at the time of sampling.

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  3. Research on floral volatiles has grown substantially in the last 20 years, which has generated insights into their diversity and prevalence. These studies have paved the way for new research that explores the evolutionary origins and ecological consequences of different types of variation in floral scent, including community-level, functional, and environmentally induced variation. However, to address these types of questions, novel approaches are needed that can handle large sample sizes, provide quality control measures, and make volatile research more transparent and accessible, particularly for scientists without prior experience in this field. Drawing upon a literature review and our own experiences, we present a set of best practices for next-generation research in floral scent. We outline methods for data collection (experimental designs, methods for conducting field collections, analytical chemistry, compound identification) and data analysis (statistical analysis, database integration) that will facilitate the generation and interpretation of quality data. For the intermediate step of data processing, we created the R package bouquet , which provides a data analysis pipeline. The package contains functions that enable users to convert chromatographic peak integrations to a filtered data table that can be used in subsequent statistical analyses. This package includes default settings for filtering out non-floral compounds, including background contamination, based on our best-practice guidelines, but functions and workflows can be easily customized as necessary. Next-generation research into the ecology and evolution of floral scent has the potential to generate broadly relevant insights into how complex traits evolve, their genomic architecture, and their consequences for ecological interactions. In order to fulfill this potential, the methodology of floral scent studies needs to become more transparent and reproducible. By outlining best practices throughout the lifecycle of a project, from experimental design to statistical analysis, and providing an R package that standardizes the data processing pipeline, we provide a resource for new and seasoned researchers in this field and in adjacent fields, where high-throughput and multi-dimensional datasets are common. 
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  4. Climate change is likely to alter both flowering phenology and water availability for plants. Either of these changes alone can affect pollinator visitation and plant reproductive success. The relative impacts of phenology and water, and whether they interact in their impacts on plant reproductive success remain, however, largely unexplored. We manipulated flowering phenology and soil moisture in a factorial experiment with the subalpine perennial Mertensia ciliata (Boraginaceae). We examined responses of floral traits, floral abundance, pollinator visitation, and composition of visits by bumblebees vs. other pollinators. To determine the net effects on plant reproductive success, we also measured seed production and seed mass. Reduced water led to shorter, narrower flowers that produced less nectar. Late flowering plants produced fewer and shorter flowers. Both flowering phenology and water availability influenced pollination and reproductive success. Differences in flowering phenology had greater effects on pollinator visitation than did changes in water availability, but the reverse was true for seed production and mass, which were enhanced by greater water availability. The probability of receiving a flower visit declined over the season, coinciding with a decline in floral abundance in the arrays. Among plants receiving visits, both the visitation rate and percent of non-bumblebee visitors declined after the first week and remained low until the final week. We detected interactions of phenology and water on pollinator visitor composition, in which plants subject to drought were the only group to experience a late-season resurgence in visits by solitary bees and flies. Despite that interaction, net reproductive success measured as seed production responded additively to the two manipulations of water and phenology. Commonly observed declines in flower size and reward due to drought or shifts in phenology may not necessarily result in reduced plant reproductive success, which in M. ciliata responded more directly to water availability. The results highlight the need to go beyond studying single responses to climate changes, such as either phenology of a single species or how it experiences an abiotic factor, in order to understand how climate change may affect plant reproductive success. 
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  5. Abstract

    Seed production can be affected by water availability and also depend on the amount (pollen intensity) and quality of pollen deposited. The way pollen receipt on the stigma translates into seeds produced follows that of a saturating dose–response. Not only can water availability and pollen intensity each influence seed production, these factors could interact in their effects on seed production. Changes to the relationship between seed production and pollen intensity can in turn influence pollinator effectiveness and pollinator-mediated selection. We asked how water availability affected indices of plant fitness (seed set, fruit set and seed mass) and the relationship between pollen intensity and seed production in Phacelia parryi. We conducted a greenhouse experiment where we manipulated water availability (either high- or low-water) to pollen recipient plants and hand-pollinated each plant with a range of pollen intensities. We conducted 703 hand-pollinations on 30 plants. For each hand-pollinated flower we measured pollen deposited, seed production and seed mass. We then generated a piecewise regression of the relationship between pollen intensity and seed production, and determined average effects of water on plant fitness measures. This experiment was paired with a field observational study aimed to document natural variation in pollen deposition. Average seed production per fruit was 21 % higher in the high-watered plants. The relationship between pollen intensity and seed production differed between the two water treatments. Plants under high-water exhibited a wider range in which pollen deposition increased seed production. Average natural pollen intensities fell within different regions of the piecewise regression for low- and high-water plants. Water availability can alter the efficiency by which pollen received is translated into seeds produced. Our greenhouse data suggest that only under certain pollen intensity environments will water availability affect how pollen received is translated into seeds produced.

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  6. How climate change influences the dynamics of plant populations is not well understood, as few plant studies have measured responses of vital rates to climatic variables and modeled the impact on population growth. The present study used 25 y of demographic data to analyze how survival, growth, and fecundity respond to date of spring snowmelt for a subalpine plant. Fecundity was estimated by seed production (over 15 y) and also divided into flower number, fruit set, seeds per fruit, and escape from seed predation. Despite no apparent effects on flower number, plants produced more seeds in years with later snowmelt. Survival and probability of flowering were reduced by early snowmelt in the previous year. Based on demographic models, earlier snowmelt with warming is expected to lead to negative population growth, driven especially by changes in seedling establishment and seed production. These results provide a rare example of how climate change is expected to influence the dynamics of a plant population. They furthermore illustrate the potential for strong population impacts even in the absence of more commonly reported visual signs, such as earlier blooming or reduced floral display in early melting years. 
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