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Floral pigmentation patterns provide an example of Gloger's rule in plants

Nature Plants volume 1, Article number: 14007 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Ecogeographic rules explain spatial trends in biodiversity, species interactions and phenotypes1. Gloger's rule and its corollaries state that pigmentation of endothermic animals will increase from more polar to equatorial regions due to changing selective pressures including heat, humidity, predation and UV irradiance2,​3,​4. In plants, floral pigmentation varies within and among taxa, yet causes of wide-scale geographic variation are lacking. We show that Gloger's rule explains patterns of variation in UV-absorbing floral pigmentation in a widespread plant, Argentina anserina (Rosaceae). Specifically, the floral pigmentation pattern unique to the UV spectrum (UV ‘bullseye’) increases with proximity to the Equator in both hemispheres, and larger bullseyes are associated with higher UVB incidence. Experiments confirm UV as an agent of selection and bullseye size as a target. Results extend the generality of an ecogeographic rule—formulated for animals—to plants, implicating UV as a selective agent on a floral trait generally assumed to enhance plant–pollinator interactions. Global change is expected to alter UV irradiance in terrestrial systems5, potentially intensifying the importance of UV-mediated selection to floral evolution. Because floral UV reflectance and pattern enhance pollinator attraction6,7, altered selective regimes could disrupt coevolved plant–pollinator interactions, weakening an important ecosystem service8.

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Acknowledgements

We thank J. Reithel and A. Robertson for logistical support, S. Barratt-Boyes, G. Arceo-Gomez, T. Knight, S.D. Smith and Ashman Lab members for discussion, BLM and USFS for access to populations, N. Morehouse for access to spectrophotometers and A.M. Koski, L.J. Koski and T.M. Byers for field assistance. Funding was provided by grants from SSE, BSA, Sigma-Xi, RMBL and National Geographic to M.H.K., NSF DEB 1020523 and 1241006 to T-L.A. and NSF DEB 1309450 to M.H.K. and T-L.A. M.H.K. was supported by a NSF GRFP and UPitt Mellon Fellowship.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA

    • Matthew H. Koski
    •  & Tia-Lynn Ashman

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Contributions

M.H.K. and T-L.A. designed the research; M.H.K. performed experiments and analyses; M.H.K. and T-L.A. wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew H. Koski.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nplants.2014.7

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