alexa Escape from floral herbivory by early flowering in Arabidopsis halleri subsp. gemmifera.
Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences

Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography

Author(s): Kawagoe T, Kudoh H

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Abstract Natural selection on flowering phenology has been studied primarily in terms of plant-pollinator interactions and effects of abiotic conditions. Little is known, however, about geographic variation in other biotic factors such as herbivores and its consequence for differential selection on flowering phenology among populations. Here, we examine selection by floral herbivores on the flowering phenology of Arabidopsis halleri subsp. gemmifera using two adjacent populations with contrasting herbivory regimes. Intensive floral herbivory by the leaf beetle Phaedon brassicae occurs in one population, while the beetle is absent in another population. We tested the hypothesis that the two populations experience differential selection on flowering time that is attributable to the presence or absence of floral herbivory. A two-year field study showed that early flowering was favoured in the population under intensive floral herbivory, whereas selection for early flowering was not found in one year in the population where floral herbivory was absent. Selection for early flowering disappeared when the abundance of floral herbivores was artificially decreased in a field experiment. Thus, the heterogeneous distribution of P. brassicae was a major agent for differential selection on flowering time. However, flowering time did not differ between the two populations when plants were grown in the laboratory. The lack of genetic differentiation in flowering time may be explained by ongoing gene flow or recent invasion of P. brassicae. This study illustrates that the role of floral herbivory in shaping geographic variation in selection on flowering phenology may be more important than previously thought. This article was published in Oecologia and referenced in Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography

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