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A sit-and-wait predator, but not an active-pursuit predator, alters pollinator-mediated selection on floral traits

Citation

Benoit, Amanda; Caruso, Christina (2021), A sit-and-wait predator, but not an active-pursuit predator, alters pollinator-mediated selection on floral traits, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.wdbrv15p8

Abstract

Indirect species interactions are ubiquitous in nature, often outnumbering direct species interactions. Yet despite evidence that indirect interactions have strong ecological effects, relatively little is known about whether they can shape adaptive evolution by altering the strength and/or direction of natural selection. We tested whether indirect interactions affect the strength and direction of pollinator-mediated selection on floral traits of the bumble-bee pollinated wildflower Lobelia siphilitica. We estimated the indirect effects of two pollinator predators with contrasting hunting modes: dragonflies (Aeshnidae and Corduliidae) and ambush bugs (Phymata americana, Reduviidae). Because dragonflies are active pursuit predators, we hypothesized that they would strengthen pollinator-mediated selection by weakening plant-pollinator interactions (i.e. a density-mediated indirect effect). In contrast, because ambush bugs are sit-and-wait predators, we hypothesized that they would weaken or reverse the direction of pollinator-mediated selection by altering pollinator foraging behavior (i.e. a trait-mediated indirect effect). Specifically, if ambush bugs hunt from plants with traits that attract pollinators (i.e. prey), then pollinators will spend less time visiting those plants, weakening or reversing the direction of selection on attractive floral traits. We did not find evidence that high dragonfly abundance strengthened selection on floral traits via a density-mediated indirect effect: neither pollen limitation (a proxy for the strength of plant-pollinator interactions) nor directional selection on floral traits of L. siphilitica differed significantly between high- and low-dragonfly abundance treatments. In contrast, we did find evidence that ambush bug presence affected selection on floral traits via a trait-mediated indirect effect: ambush bugs hunted from L. siphilitica plants with larger daily floral displays, reversing the direction of pollinator-mediated selection on daily display size. These results suggest that indirect species interactions have the potential to shape adaptive evolution by altering natural selection.