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Trends Ecol Evol. 2012 Jun;27(6):353-61. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Mar 23.

Phylogenetic evidence for pollinator-driven diversification of angiosperms.

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School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa.


Since Darwin, the diversity of flowers has been attributed to selection by pollinators. Although pollinators commonly act as selective agents on floral traits, determining the extent to which they have influenced angiosperm diversification requires a historical perspective. Here we review recent studies that combine species-level phylogenies with pollinator data and show that pollinator shifts are common, being associated with at least a quarter of documented divergence events. However, shift frequency and directionality vary extensively, owing to variation in intrinsic factors such as floral features and phylogenetic history, as well as extrinsic factors such as interactions with local pollinator assemblages. Despite technical advances, phylogenies remain limited in their power to distinguish among various pollinator-driven evolutionary processes.

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