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J Evol Biol. 2004 May;17(3):642-50.

Variable selection in Platanthera bifolia (Orchidaceae): phenotypic selection differed between sex functions in a drought year.

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Department of Systematic Botany, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Sweden.


We estimated selection on three morphological characters in the hermaphroditic, hawkmoth-pollinated orchid Platanthera bifolia and explored selection surfaces through male and female function. The work was carried out in northern Sweden during two flowering seasons (1994 and 1995) in one natural population and one season (1995) in another natural population. Fitness was estimated as number of pollinia removed (male function) and number of fruits produced (female function). We detected directional selection towards larger inflorescence size (flower number) through both sex functions in both populations in 1995. In 1994, with an unusually dry growing season, 78% of the individuals failed to set any fruit, and there was selection for larger inflorescences only through male function. In this year, there was selection towards longer flower spurs, which could be a direct or indirect effect of spurs being shortened by drought. The results demonstrate that selection patterns may vary temporally and spatially, and that the 'male function hypothesis' may be applicable as female function is more resource dependent than male function.

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