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The influence of insects and hummingbirds on the geographical variation of the flower phenotype in Mimulus luteus

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We describe the geographical variation of corolla and nectar guide size in seven populations of Mimulus luteus (Phrymaceae) in central Chile, and examine whether flower phenotypes associate with taxonomic composition and flower visit patterns of pollinators across populations. Flowers showed higher variation in nectar guide size than corolla size. Mean corolla size increased with the proportion of bees and decreased with the proportion of lepidopterans in the pollinator assemblages. Nectar guide size increased with the proportion of hummingbirds in the pollinator assemblages. When the frequency of flower visits rather than taxonomic composition was considered, the results revealed similar patterns. Because these traits previously have been described as targets of bee- and hummingbird-mediated selection in M. luteus, our results have implications for understanding the processes that determine flower diversification in Chilean Mimulus. Although we cannot rule out ecological sorting as an explanation for the geographical association between pollinators and flower phenotypes, changes in the prevalence and importance of bees and hummingbirds across populations appear to account, at least in part, for the flower phenotypic variation across populations. The extent to which insect and hummingbird pollination in M. luteus produces pollinator-mediated divergence among populations needs to be examined in future studies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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