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J Evol Biol. 2009 Jul;22(7):1460-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01762.x. Epub 2009 May 7.

Displacement of flowering phenologies among plant species by competition for generalist pollinators.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of California - San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.


We model the evolution of allochronic isolation between sympatric animal-pollinated plant species via displacement of their flowering times. The plant species share generalist pollinators and either produce inviable hybrid seeds or do not hybridize at all. Displacement of flowering times between reproductively isolated species reduces competition for pollinators and the formation of inviable hybrid seeds. Under strong pollen limitation, competition for pollinators causes rapid evolution of allochronic isolation both for hybridizing and nonhybridizing species. Under weak pollen limitation, allochronic isolation evolves rapidly for hybridizing species but more slowly for nonhybridizing species. Positive density-dependent pollinator visitation rate at low flower densities facilitates allochronic isolation under weak pollen limitation. Allochronic isolation among sympatric species sharing generalist pollinators could be common under any intensity of pollen limitation if the flowering season is sufficiently long.

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