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Quantifying the relationship between pollinator behavior and plant reproductive isolation

By Robin Hopkins

Posted 17 Dec 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/094896

Pollinator behavior is an important contributor to reproductive isolation in plants. Despite hundreds of years of empirical research, we lack a quantitative framework for evaluating how variation in pollinator behavior causes variation in reproductive isolation in plants. Here I present a model describing how two aspects of pollinator behavior, constancy and preference, lead to reproductive isolation in plants. This model is motivated by two empirical observations: most co-occurring plants vary in frequency over space and time and most plants have multiple pollinators that differ in behavior. These two observations suggest a need to understand how plant frequency and pollinator frequency influence reproductive isolation between co-occurring plants. My model predicts how the proportion of heterospecific matings varies over plant frequencies given pollinator preference and constancy. I find that the shape of this relationship is dependent on the strength of pollinator behavior. Additionally, my model incorporates multiple pollinators with different behaviors to predict the proportion of heterospecific matings across pollinator frequencies. I find that when two pollinators display different strength constancy the total proportion of heterospecific matings is simply the average proportion of heterospecific matings predicted for each pollinator. When pollinators vary in their preference the pollinator with the stronger preference disproportionally contributes to the predicted proportion of total heterospecific matings. I apply this model to examples of pollinator-mediated reproductive isolation in Phlox and in Mimulus to predict relationships between plant and pollinator frequency and reproductive isolation in natural systems.

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