Correlated evolution of mating system and floral display traits in flowering plants and its implications for the distribution of mating system variation


Author for correspondence:
Carol Goodwillie
Tel: +1 252 328 4225


  •  Reduced allocation to structures for pollinator attraction is predicted in selfing species. We explored the association between outcrossing and floral display in a broad sample of angiosperms. We used the demonstrated relationship to test for bias against selfing species in the outcrossing rate distribution, the shape of which has relevance for the stability of mixed mating.
  •  Relationships between outcrossing rate, flower size, flower number and floral display, measured as the product of flower size and number, were examined using phylogenetically independent contrasts. The distribution of floral displays among species in the outcrossing rate database was compared with that of a random sample of the same flora.
  •  The outcrossing rate was positively associated with the product of flower size and number; individually, components of display were less strongly related to outcrossing. Compared with a random sample, species in the outcrossing rate database showed a deficit of small floral display sizes.
  •  We found broad support for reduced allocation to attraction in selfing species. We suggest that covariation between mating systems and total allocation to attraction can explain the deviation from expected trade-offs between flower size and number. Our results suggest a bias against estimating outcrossing rates in the lower half of the distribution, but not specifically against highly selfing species.