Why Do Floral Perfumes Become Different? Region-Specific Selection on Floral Scent in a Terrestrial Orchid
OPEN PloS one | 18 Feb 2016
K Gross, M Sun and FP Schiestl
Geographically structured phenotypic selection can lead to adaptive divergence. However, in flowering plants, such divergent selection has rarely been shown, and selection on floral signals is generally little understood. In this study, we measured phenotypic selection on display size, floral color, and floral scent in four lowland and four mountain populations of the nectar-rewarding terrestrial orchid Gymnadenia odoratissima in two years. We also quantified population differences in these traits and pollinator community composition. Our results show positive selection on display size and positive, negative, or absence of selection on different scent compounds and floral color. Selection on the main scent compounds was consistently stronger in the lowlands than in the mountains, and lowland plants emitted higher amounts of most of these compounds. Pollinator community composition also differed between regions, suggesting different pollinators select for differences in floral volatiles. Overall, our study is the first to document consistent regional differences in selection on floral scent, suggesting this pattern of selection is one of the evolutionary forces contributing to regional divergence in floral chemical signaling.
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