Pollination biology and mating system of a peripheral population of Witheringia solanacea (Solanaceae)
Document Type Dissertation/Thesis
Pollinator visitation rates over the life of a flower are determined by pollinator abundance and floral longevity. If flowers are not visited frequently enough, pollen limitation may occur, favoring the evolution of self-compatibility (SC). In plant species with varying SC levels, central populations often are self-incompatible (SI) and peripheral populations are SC. Witheringia solanacea (Solanaceae) is a species that follows this trend with the exception of one population in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which is peripheral yet SI. I investigated this population using multiple techniques including floral bagging, pollinator observations, microsatellite analysis, and floral longevity manipulations. My results confirmed the self-incompatibility of the Monteverde population and indicated low but perhaps adequate rates of pollinator visitation per flower per hour. I found reduced genetic diversity at Monteverde and gene flow occurring unidirectionally from San Luis (a central population) to Monteverde. In the greenhouse, there was more of an effect of male than female function on floral longevity, but the largest differences were environmental. Flowers stayed open substantially longer when cool, cloudy weather was simulated and shorter when conditions were hot and sunny. The results indicate that the Monteverde population of W. solanacea is SI because 1) it is unable to maximize its fitness due to gene flow from San Luis and its relatively recent colonization of the area and 2) pollen limitation may not be severe because of supplemental pollinator availability from other Witheringia species in the area and increased floral longevities due to cool and cloudy conditions.