The geographic mosaic in predispersal interactions and selection on Helleborus foetidus (Ranunculaceae)


Pedro J. Rey, Departamento de Biología Animal, Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Área de Ecología, Universidad de Jaén, E-23071 Jaén, Spain.
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We examine the hierarchical geographic structure of the interaction between a plant, Helleborus foetidus, and its floral herbivores and pollinators (interactors). Six populations from three distant regions of the Iberian Peninsula were used to examine intra- and inter-regional variation in plant traits, interactors and plant fecundity, and to compare, through selection gradient and path analyses, which traits were under selection, and which interactors were responsible for differential selection. Geographic and temporal congruency in interactor-mediated selection was further tested using a recent analytical approach based on multi-group comparison in Structural Equation Models. Most plant traits, interactors and fecundity differed among regions but not between populations. Similarly, the identity of the traits under selection, the selection gradients (strength and/or the direction of the selection) and the path coefficients (identifying the ecological basis for selection) varied inter- but not intra-regionally. Results show a selection mosaic at the broad scale and, for some traits, a link of differential selection to trait differentiation.