Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Character displacement drives floral variation in Pelargonium (Geraniaceae) communities

Citation

Newman, Ethan; Anderson, Bruce (2020), Character displacement drives floral variation in Pelargonium (Geraniaceae) communities, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m0cfxpp02

Abstract

Interactions between plant community members are an underexplored driver of angiosperm floral variation. We investigate character displacement as a potential contributor to floral variation in Pelargonium communities. Pelargoniums all place pollen on the ventral sides of their pollinators, potentially leading to interspecific pollen transfer (IPT) in sympatry. We show that the positions of pollen placement and receipt are determined by anther and style exsertion lengths. Using field experiments, we demonstrate that heterospecific species experience high IPT if they have similar style lengths. In contrast, heterospecific species with greater style length differences experience less IPT. Using crosses, we show that IPT has negative consequences on seed set. In combination, these results suggest that character displacement in style length is likely to reduce IPT and increase female fitness in sympatry. Patterns of style length variation across twenty-nine different Pelargonium communities suggest that character displacement has occurred in multiple communities. Furthermore, analyses using a wide-ranging species pair show that style lengths are more different between sympatric populations than they are between allopatric populations. In addition to pollinators as agents of floral divergence, this study suggests that variation in Pelargonium community structure has driven style length variation through character displacement.Interactions between plant community members are an underexplored driver of angiosperm floral variation. We investigate character displacement as a potential contributor to floral variation in Pelargonium communities. Pelargoniums all place pollen on the ventral sides of their pollinators, potentially leading to interspecific pollen transfer (IPT) in sympatry. We show that the positions of pollen placement and receipt are determined by anther and style exsertion lengths. Using field experiments, we demonstrate that heterospecific species experience high IPT if they have similar style lengths. In contrast, heterospecific species with greater style length differences experience less IPT. Using crosses, we show that IPT has negative consequences on seed set. In combination, these results suggest that character displacement in style length is likely to reduce IPT and increase female fitness in sympatry. Patterns of style length variation across twenty-nine different Pelargonium communities suggest that character displacement has occurred in multiple communities. Furthermore, analyses using a wide-ranging species pair show that style lengths are more different between sympatric populations than they are between allopatric populations. In addition to pollinators as agents of floral divergence, this study suggests that variation in Pelargonium community structure has driven style length variation through character displacement.

Funding

National Geographic Society, Award: 9271‐13

National Research Foundation, Award: 87734