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Plasticity of flower longevity in alpine plants is increased in populations from high elevation compared to low elevation populations
, Stöcklin J.
, 2017. V. 127. No. 1. P. 41–51
Журнал с антэкологическими публикациями.
Springer International Publishing · Christina.Eckey@springer.com
Flower longevity is an adaptive trait, optimized to balance reproductive success against the costs of flower maintenance. The trait is highly plastic in response to pollination success, and numerous studies report increased flower longevity in high elevation environments, where diversity, abundance, and activity of pollinators are low. However, few studies have experimentally investigated how flower longevity varies with pollination intensity within and among populations. We studied flower longevity of six alpine species under three pollination intensity treatments (hand-pollination, natural pollination, pollinator exclusion) at 1600 m vs. 2600 m a.s.l. at the Furka Pass, Central Swiss Alps. We hypothesized, (1) that flower longevity is generally increased in population at high elevation, and (2) that the increase in flower longevity when pollination fails is stronger in populations at high elevation compared to low elevation. Hand-pollination did not decrease flower longevity in any of the studied populations and rarely increased natural seed production suggesting no pollination limitation at both elevations. This was supported by similar pollinator visitation rates, pollinator efficiency, and pollination effectivity. Pollinator exclusion significantly increased flower longevity, but only in populations of three species at low elevation, whereby in all populations of the six species at high elevation, indicating a higher plasticity of flowers in populations at high elevation compared to populations from lower elevation. We suggest that the higher plasticity of flower longevity in alpine populations is of advantage in their unpredictable pollination environment: Increased flower longevity compensates for low pollination in unsuitable periods guaranteeing a minimum reproduction, while the capacity to senescence rapidly after successful pollination saves redundant floral costs in suitable periods.