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Selection toward Shorter Flowers by Butterflies Whose Probosces are Shorter than Floral Tubes

Daniel Bloch and Andreas Erhardt
Ecology
Vol. 89, No. 9 (Sep., 2008), pp. 2453-2460
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27650784
Page Count: 8
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Selection toward Shorter Flowers by Butterflies Whose Probosces are Shorter than Floral Tubes
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Abstract

Darwin's meticulous observations on the function of floral shape led to his famous prediction of a long-tongued pollinator, which he believed to be the evolutionary trigger for the long-spurred flowers of the Madagascar star orchid. Although tubular flowers are common, long tubes or spurs are an exception, suggesting that selection maintaining short flowers is widespread. Using the butterfly-pollinated carnation Dianthus carthusianorum and two butterfly species differing in proboscis length (Melanargia galathea and Inachis io) as model organisms, we experimentally demonstrate a reduction in pollinator efficiency with an increasing difference between proboscis length and floral tube length. Such a relationship is a prerequisite for the evolution of floral shape in response to pollinator morphology.

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