Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Adaptation to lower latitudes and lower elevations precedes the evolution of hummingbird pollination in western North American Penstemon

Citation

Wessinger, Carolyn; Hamilton, Ashley (2022), Adaptation to lower latitudes and lower elevations precedes the evolution of hummingbird pollination in western North American Penstemon, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.prr4xgxpb

Abstract

Premise: A switch in pollinator can occur when a plant lineage enters a new habitat where the ancestral pollinator is less common and a novel pollinator is more common. Since pollinator communities vary according to environmental tolerances and availability of resources, there may be consistent associations between pollination mode and specific regions and habitats. Such associations can be studied in lineages that have experienced multiple pollinator transitions, representing evolutionary replicates.

Methods: Our study focused on a large clade of Penstemon wildflower species in western North America that has repeatedly evolved hummingbird-adapted flowers from ancestral bee-adapted flowers. For each species, we estimated geographic ranges from occurrence data and inferred environmental niches from climate, topographical, and soil data. Using a phylogenetic comparative approach, we investigated whether hummingbird-adapted species occupy distinct geographic regions or habitats relative to beeadapted species.

Results: Hummingbird-adapted species occur at lower latitudes and lower elevations than bee-adapted species, resulting in a difference in their environmental niche. Hummingbird-adapted species seem to evolve in lineages that previously adapted to lower latitudes and elevations, since bee-adapted species sister to hummingbird-adapted species also occur in these regions and habitats. Sister species pairs – regardless of whether they differ in pollinator – show relatively little geographic range overlap.

Conclusions: Adaptation to a novel pollinator may often occur in geographic and ecological isolation from ancestral populations. The ability of a given lineage to adapt to novel pollinators may critically depend on its ability to colonize regions and habitats associated with novel pollinator communities.

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-2052904