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Evolution. 2004 Nov;58(11):2426-37.

Opposing natural selection from herbivores and pathogens may maintain floral-color variation in Claytonia virginica (Portulacaceae).

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Department of Biology, Jordan Hall, 1001 East Third Street, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-3700, USA.


The maintenance of floral-color variation within natural populations is enigmatic because directional selection through pollinator preferences combined with random genetic drift should lead to the rapid loss of such variation. Fluctuating, balancing, and negative frequency-dependent selection mediated through pollinators have been identified as factors that may contribute to the maintenance of floral-color variation, and recently it has been suggested that indirect responses to selection on correlated characters through agents of selection other than pollinators may substantially shape the evolution of floral traits. Here, I provide empirical support for this latter view in Claytonia virginica (Portulacaceae) through a multiseason field study, a pollen supplementation study, and an artificial herbivory experiment. These studies show that most individuals fall into one of four discrete color classes, and suggest pollinator-mediated selection for increased floral redness in concurrent years. Floral color is also an indirect target of opposing directional selection via herbivores and pathogens that fluctuates through time. Taken together, these data suggest a novel mechanism by which floral-color variation may be maintained, and illustrate the importance of an inclusive, pluralistic view of selection when investigating the evolution of complex phenotypes.

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