Mating system evolution under strong pollen limitation: Evidence of disruptive selection through male and female fitness in Clarkia xantiana

Ryan D. Briscoe Runquist, Monica A. Geber, Michael Pickett-Leonard, David A. Moeller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Selection on floral traits in hermaphroditic plants is determined by both male and female reproductive success. However, predictions regarding floral trait and mating system evolution are often based solely on female fitness. Selection via male fitness has the potential to affect the outcomes of floral evolution. In this study, we used paternity analysis to assess individual selfing rates and selection on floral traits via male and female fitness in an experimental population of Clarkia xantiana where pollen limitation of seed set was strong. We detected selection through both female and male fitness with reinforcing or noninterfering patterns of selection through the two sex functions. For female fitness, selection favored reduced herkogamy and protandry, traits that promote increased autonomous selfing. For male fitness, selection on petal area was disruptive, with higher trait values conferring greater pollinator attraction and outcross siring success and smaller trait values leading to higher selfed siring success. Combining both female and male fitness, selection on petal area and protandry was disruptive because intermediate phenotypes were less successful as both males and females. Finally, functional relationships among male and female fertility components indicated that selfing resulted in seed discounting and pollen discounting. Under these functional relationships, the evolutionarily stable selfing rate can be intermediate or predominantly selfing or outcrossing, depending on the segregating load of deleterious mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-563
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding was provided by grants from the National Science Foundation (DEB-104582 to D.A.M. and M.A.G. and DEB-1025004 to D.A.M.). For field assistance, we thank K. Veraldi. For laboratory assistance, we thank R. Bier, E. Chu, J. Iverson, C. Jones, and A. Wang.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by The University of Chicago.


  • Bateman’s principle
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Paternity analysis
  • Reproductive assurance
  • Selfing and outcrossing
  • Sexual selection


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