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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Natural selection on floral morphology can be influenced by climate

  • Author(s): Campbell, DR
  • Powers, JM
  • et al.

© 2015 Royal Society of London. All rights reserved. Climate has the potential to influence evolution, but how it influences the strength or direction of natural selection is largely unknown. We quantified the strength of selection on four floral traits of the subalpine herb Ipomopsis sp. in 10 years that differed in precipitation, causing extreme temporal variation in the date of snowmelt in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The chosen floral traits were under selection by hummingbird and hawkmoth pollinators, with hawkmoth abundance highly variable across years. Selection for flower length showed environmental sensitivity, with stronger selection in years with later snowmelt, as higher water resources can allow translation of pollination success into fitness based on seed production. Selection on corolla width also varied across years, favouring narrower corolla tubes in two unusual years with hawkmoths, and wider corollas in another late snowmelt year. Our results illustrate howchanges in climate could alter natural selection even when the primary selective agent is not directly influenced.

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