A theory for exaggerated secondary sexual traits in animal-pollinated plants

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Authors: Biernaskie, JM; Elle, E
Year: 2007
Journal: Evolutionary Ecology 21: 459-472   Article Link (DOI)
Title: A theory for exaggerated secondary sexual traits in animal-pollinated plants
Abstract: We analyze two mathematical models of adaptive investment in rewarding plant traits. In both models, the attractiveness of a particular trait value declines as the mean value in the population increases (asymmetric competition), giving relatively rewarding traits a competitive advantage. Including this competition for pollinator visits in a standard model of hermaphroditic sex allocation shifts additional allocation to pollinator rewards at the expense of allocation to pollen and seeds. In the second model, plants can invest additional resources in pollinator rewards but suffer reduced viability and rising costs due to excess pollen removal and within-plant selfing (geitonogamy). Despite these accumulating costs, increasing the magnitude of asymmetric competition exaggerates the ESS investment in rewards beyond the equilibrium in cases where attractiveness depends only on a plant's absolute reward value. We suggest that the type of frequency dependent selection modeled here is fundamentally equivalent to sexual selection in animal populations (with some unique exceptions). Testing the main assumptions of our models may reveal whether seemingly "extravagant" floral traits are strictly analogous to the exaggerated secondary sexual traits of animals.
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