Diversity of floral visitors to sympatric Lithophragma species differing in floral morphology

  • Cuautle M
  • Thompson J
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Abstract

Most coevolving relationships between pairs of species are embedded in a broader multispecific interaction network. The mutualistic interaction between Lithophragma parviflorum (Saxifragaceae) and its pollinating floral parasite Greya politella (Lepidoptera, Prodoxidae) occurs in some communities as a pairwise set apart from most other interactions in those communities. In other communities, however, this pair of species occurs with congeners and with other floral visitors to Lithophragma. We analyzed local and geographic differences in the network formed by interactions between Lithophragma plants and Greya moths in communities containing two Lithophragma species, two Greya species, and floral visitors other than Greya that visit Lithophragma flowers. Our goal was to evaluate if non-Greya visitors were common, if visitor assembly differs between Lithophragma species and populations and if these visitors act as effective pollinators. Sympatric populations of L. heterophyllum and L. parviflorum differ in floral traits that may affect assemblies of floral visitors. Visitation rates by non-Greya floral visitors were low, and the asymptotic number of visitor species was less than 20 species in all populations. Lithophragma species shared some of the visitors, with visitor assemblages differing between sites more for L. heterophyllum than for L. parviflorum. Pollination efficacy experiments showed that most visitors were poor pollinators. Single visits to flowers by this assemblage of species resulted in significantly higher seed set in Lithophragma heterophyllum (30.6 +/- 3.9 SE) than in L. parviflorum (4.7 +/- 3.4 SE). This difference was consistent between sites, suggesting that these visitors provide a better fit to the floral morphology of L. heterophyllum. Overall, none of the non-Greya visitors appears to be either sufficiently common or efficient as a pollinator to impose strong selection on any of these four Lithophragma populations in comparison with Greya, which occurs within almost all populations of these species throughout their geographic ranges.

Author-supplied keywords

  • California
  • Geographic variation
  • Greya
  • Interaction network
  • Pollinator efficacy

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Authors

  • Mariana Cuautle

  • John N. Thompson

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