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Plant ploidy level influences selection by butterfly seed predators

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Polyploidization is a common route to plant diversification. Polyploids often differ from their progenitors in size, flower number, flower size and flowering phenology. Such differences may translate into differences in the intensity of interactions with animals. Here we investigated the impact of the ploidy-related differences in tetraploids and octoploids of the perennial herb Cardamine pratensis on pre-dispersal seed predation by the butterfly Anthocharis cardamines. The probability of escaping attack was lower for octoploids than for tetraploids, even after accounting for the fact that octoploids were larger and had fewer flowers than tetraploids. Flower shoot size was correlated with probability of attack in tetraploids but not in octoploids. Differences in plant traits associated with polyploidization can alter interactions with animals, and animal-mediated differences in trait selection between ploidy types can contribute to their further divergence.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2008

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