Plant-Animal Interactions and Evolution of Floral Display and Flowering Phenology in Arabidopsis lyrata
Abstract: In this thesis, I combined comparative and experimental approaches to examine selection on reproductive traits, and population differentiation in the insect-pollinated, outcrossing, perennial herb Arabidopsis lyrata. More specifically, I (1) determined whether selection on flowering phenology and floral display can be attributed to interactions with pollinators and herbivores, (2) examined whether population differentiation in flowering phenology and floral display is correlated with current selection on these traits, and (3) tested for local adaptation from contrasting environments in Europe.A field experiment conducted in a Swedish population demonstrated, that interactions with pollinators may markedly affect selection on both floral display and phenology of flowering. In an alpine population in Norway, grazing damage to inflorescences strongly influenced selection on floral display. The results suggest that variation in the abundance of pollinators and herbivores should contribute to spatio-temporal variation in selection on flowering phenology and floral display in A. lyrata. A common-garden experiment showed that flowering phenology and floral display vary among Scandinavian populations of A. lyrata. For some traits patterns of population differentiation were consistent with differences in the direction and strength of phenotypic selection determined in comparisons (a) between an alpine population in Norway and a coastal population in Sweden, and (b) among coastal populations in Sweden. This suggests that current selection contributes to the maintenance of genetic differentiation in these traits.Adaptive differentiation among populations was examined in a reciprocal transplant experiment that included populations from three contrasting environments, alpine Norway, coastal Sweden and lowland, continental Germany. The experiment provided evidence for local adaptation, and indicated that populations have diverged in traits affecting plant establishment and early growth.
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