The contribution of a pollinating seed predator to selection on Silene latifolia females


Giorgina Bernasconi, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, CH-2009 Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
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Interactions, antagonistic or mutualistic, can exert selection on plant traits. We explored the role of Hadena bicruris, a pollinating seed predator, as a selective agent on its host, the dioecious plant Silene latifolia. We exposed females from artificial-selection lines (many, small flowers (SF) vs. few, large flowers (LF)) to this moth. Infestation did not differ significantly between lines, but the odds of attacked fruits aborting were higher in SF females. We partitioned selection between that caused by moth attack and that resulting from all other factors. In both lines, selection via moth attack for fewer, smaller flowers contrasted with selection via other factors for more flowers. In LF females, selection via the two components was strongest and selection via moth attack also favoured increased fruit abortion. This suggests that the moths act as more of a selective force on flower size and number via their predating than their pollinating role.