Reproductive character displacement and potential underlying drivers in a species-rich and florally diverse lineage of tropical angiosperms (Ruellia; Acanthaceae)
Tripp, Erin; Dexter, Kyle G.; Stone, Heather (2021), Reproductive character displacement and potential underlying drivers in a species-rich and florally diverse lineage of tropical angiosperms (Ruellia; Acanthaceae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.qnk98sfff
Reproductive character displacement is a pattern whereby sympatric lineages diverge more in reproductive character morphology than allopatric lineages. This pattern has been observed in many plant species, but comparably few have sought to disentangle underlying mechanisms. Here, in a diverse lineage of Neotropical plants (Ruellia; Acanthaceae), we present evidence of reproductive character displacement in a macroevolutionary framework (i.e., among species) and document mechanistic underpinnings. In a series of inter-specific hand pollinations in a controlled glasshouse environment, we found that crosses between species that differed more in overall flower size, particularly in style length, were significantly less likely to produce viable seeds. Further, species pairs that failed to set seed were more likely to have sympatric distributions in nature. Competition for pollinators and reinforcement to avoid costly inter-specific mating could both result in these patterns and are not mutually exclusive processes. Our results add to growing evidence that reproductive character displacement contributes to exceptional floral diversity of angiosperms.