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Ann Bot. 2004 Aug;94(2):243-50. Epub 2004 Jun 17.

Phenology and phenotypic natural selection on the flowering time of a deceit-pollinated tropical orchid, Myrmecophila christinae.

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  • 1Departamento de Ecología, Campus de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, AP 4-116, Col. Itzimná, 97100, Mérida, Yucatán, México.



Flowering phenology is described and the effect of flowering time on pollination success is evaluated in the deceit-pollinated tropical orchid, Myrmecophila christinae. It was expected that, due to this species' deceit pollination strategy and low observed pollinator visit rate, there would be a higher probability of natural selection events favouring individuals flowering away from the population flowering peak.


The study covers two consecutive years and four populations of M. christinae located along the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. For phenological and pollination success data, a total of 110 individuals were monitored weekly in 1998, and 83 individuals in 1999, during all the flowering and fruiting season.


The results showed significant differences in the probability of donating and receiving pollen throughout the flowering season. The probability of receiving or donating pollen increased the further an individual flowering was from the flowering peak. Regression analysis showed directional and disruptive phenotypic natural selection gradients, suggesting the presence of selection events unfavourable to flowering during flowering peak, for both male success (pollen removal) and female success (fruit production). However, the intensity and significance of the natural selection events varied between populations from year to year. The variation between seasons and populations was apparently due to variations in the density of reproductive individuals in each population and each season.


As in other deceit-pollinated orchids, natural selection in M. christinae favours individuals flowering early or late in relation to population peak flowering. However, results also suggested a fluctuating regime of selective events act on flowering time of M. christinae.

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