Selection on floral design in polemonium brandegeei (Polemoniaceae): Female and male fitness under hawkmoth pollination

Mason W. Kulbaba, Anne C. Worley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Plant-pollinator interactions promote the evolution of floral traits that attract pollinators and facilitate efficient pollen transfer. The spatial separation of sex organs, herkogamy, is believed to limit sexual interference in hermaphrodite flowers. Reverse herkogamy (stigma recessed below anthers) and long, narrow corolla tubes are expected to promote efficiency in male function under hawkmoth pollination. We tested this prediction by measuring selection in six experimental arrays of Polemonium brandegeei, a species that displays continuous variation in herkogamy, resulting in a range of recessed to exserted stigmas. Under glasshouse conditions, we measured pollen removal and deposition, and estimated selection gradients (β) through female fitness (seeds set) and male fitness (siring success based on six polymorphic microsatellite loci). Siring success was higher in plants with more nectar sugar and narrow corolla tubes. However, selection through female function for reverse herkogamy was considerably stronger than was selection through male function. Hawkmoths were initially attracted to larger flowers, but overall preferred plants with reverse herkogamy. Greater pollen deposition and seed set also occurred in reverse herkogamous plants. Thus, reverse herkogamy may be maintained by hawkmoths through female rather than male function. Further, our results suggest that pollinator attraction may play a considerable role in enhancing female function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1344-1359
Number of pages16
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Herkogamy
  • Hyles gallii
  • Male fitness
  • Pollen movement
  • Selection gradients


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