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Inaccurate Color Discrimination by Pollinators Promotes Evolution of Discrete Color Polymorphism in Food-Deceptive Flowers

Inaccurate Color Discrimination by Pollinators Promotes Evolution of Discrete Color Polymorphism in Food-Deceptive Flowers

American Naturalist 187(2): 194-204

ISSN/ISBN: 0003-0147

PMID: 26807747

DOI: 10.1086/684433

Many plant species employing a food-deceptive pollination strategy show discrete or continuous floral polymorphism within their populations. Previous studies have suggested that negative frequency-dependent selection (NFDS) caused by the learning behavior of pollinators was responsible for the maintenance of floral polymorphism. However, NFDS alone does not explain why and when discrete or continuous polymorphism evolves. In this study, we use an evolutionary simulation model to propose that inaccurate discrimination of flower colors by pollinators results in evolution of discrete flower color polymorphism. Simulations showed that associative learning based on inaccurate discrimination in pollinators caused disruptive selection of flower colors. The degree of inaccuracy determined the number of discrete flower colors that evolved. Our results suggest that animal behavior based on inaccurate discrimination may be a general cause of disruptive selection that promotes discrete trait polymorphism.

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Accession: 058089588

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