Support for the predictions of the pollinator-mediated stabilizing selection hypothesis

van Kleunen, Mark; Meier, Anna; Saxenhofer, Moritz; Fischer, Markus (2008). Support for the predictions of the pollinator-mediated stabilizing selection hypothesis. Journal of Plant Ecology, 1(3), pp. 173-178. Oxford: Oxford University Press 10.1093/jpe/rtn017

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Aims Floral traits are frequency used in traditional plant systematics because Of their assumed constancy. One potential reason for the apparent constancy of flower size is that effective pollen transfer between flowers depends oil the accuracy of the physical fit between the flower and pollinator. Therefore, dowels are likely to he under stronger stabilizing selection for uniform size than vegetative plant parts. Moreover, as predicted by the pollinator-mediated stabilizing selection (PMSS) hypothesis, all accurate fit between flowers and their pollinators is likely to he more important for specialized pollination systems as found in many species with bilaterally symmetric (zygomorphic) flowers than for species, with radially symmetric (actinomorphic) flowers. Methods In a comparative study of 15 zygomorphic and 13 actinomorphic species ill Switzerland, we tested whether variation in flower size, among and within individuals, is smaller than variation ill leaf size and whether variation in flower size is smaller ill zygomorphic compared to actinomorphic species. Important findings Indeed, variation ill leaf length was significantly larger than variation in flower length and width. Within-individual variation ill flower and leaf sizes did not differ significantly between zygomorphic and actinomorphic species. In line with the predictions of the PMSS, among-individual variation ill flower length and flower width was significantly smaller for zygomorphic species than for actinomorphic species, while the two groups did not differ in leaf length variation. This suggests that plants with zygomorphic flowers have undergone stronger selection for uniform flowers than plants with actinomorphic flowers. This supports that the uniformity of flowers compared to vegetative structures within species, as already observed in traditional plant systematics, is, at least in part, a consequence of the requirement for effective pollination.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

van Kleunen, Mark, Meier, Anna, Saxenhofer, Moritz, Fischer, Markus




Oxford University Press




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:08

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:21

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 172144)

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