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Am J Bot. 2003 Sep;90(9):1333-40. doi: 10.3732/ajb.90.9.1333.

Natural selection on floral traits of Lobelia (Lobeliaceae): spatial and temporal variation.

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Departments of Biology and Mathematics, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa 50112 USA;


The strength and direction of natural selection on floral traits can vary spatially and temporally because of variation in the biotic and abiotic environment. High spatial variation in selection should lead to differentiation of floral traits among populations. In contrast, high temporal variation in selection should retard the evolution of population-specific floral phenotypes. To determine the relative importance of spatial vs. temporal variation in natural selection, we measured phenotypic selection on seven floral traits of the wildflowers Lobelia cardinalis and L. siphilitica in 1999 and 2000. Lobelia cardinalis experienced significant temporal variation in selection, whereas L. siphilitica experienced spatial variation in selection on the same traits. This variation in selection on floral traits was associated with spatial and temporal differences in the soil microenvironment. Although few studies of natural selection include spatial or temporal replicates, our results suggest that such replication is critical for understanding the distribution of phenotypes in nature.

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