Abstracts (first author)
Genetic and ecological consequences of individual generalization in plant-pollinator systems
Most theoretical approaches assume that, in pollination generalist systems, all individual plants interact with random subsets of the overall pollinator pool. In contrast, we think that the generalization degree of a given individual plant could be non random, but related with some intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as its spatial location within the population, its microenvironment and its phenotype and genotype. Plants exhibiting different values for those factors would attract different subset of pollinators, and plants showing similar values of those traits would share similar subgroups of pollinators. Since pollinator species of a generalist plant vary in their foraging behaviour, per-visit effectiveness, and floral constancy, individual plants could receive a biased sample of pollen that could affect their reproductive success. To test this idea, we have thoroughly sampled a population of Erysimum mediohispanicum (Brassicaceae) in Sierra Nevada Mountains (Spain). This species is an extremely generalist plant, being pollinated by more than 180 insect species in the study area, ranging from 30-40 pollinator species per population. For every plant in the population, we determined the diversity and identity of insects visiting its flowers. In addition, we also quantified the micro-environment (irradiance, soil water content, top soil nutrients), the pollination-related phenotypic traits (flower number, flowering stalk height, stigma exertion, and corolla size, color, and shape), and the multilocus genotype (using cpDNA haplotypes and nuclear microsatellites) of each plant. Finally, to estimate individual fitness, we quantified the number and genetic diversity of the seeds produced per plant. Our goal in this study is to evaluate how the individual interaction with subsets of pollinators may affect the quantity and quality of plants' progeny.