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Pollinator-mediated selection and geographical mosaic of floral variation in Tocoyena formosa (Rubiaceae) in the Brazilian Cerrados

Grant number: 12/09812-5
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2012
Effective date (End): November 30, 2013
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Theoretical Ecology
Principal Investigator:Eduardo Leite Borba
Grantee:Felipe Wanderley de Amorim
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Naturais e Humanas (CCNH). Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC). Ministério da Educação (Brasil). Santo André , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Plant-pollinator interactions are among the main hypotheses to explain Angiosperm diversification. Plants with highly specialized pollination systems, as sphingophilous species, depend on a flower-pollinator morphological match to reproduce. Hence, pollinators exert selective pressures on flower morphology, operating as mediators of floral differentiation and evolution. Plant species with widespread geographic distribution may interact with distinct pollinator guilds throughout their range of distribution, resulting in a geographic mosaic of floral variation, due to the local processes of adaptation to the pollinators. However, in Brazil, little is known about these processes of pollinator-mediated selection, both in a local and in a regional context. Tocoyena formosa (Rubiaceae) is one of the most abundant and widespread Cerrado species. Besides to be self-incompatible, the species possess very long floral tubes, making it completely dependent on long-tongued Sphingidae moths for sexual reproduction. In this context, this study aims to (I) quantify the geographic variation of floral morphology of T. formosa, as well as the variations in the tongue lengths of the hawkmoth species that pollinate it; II) to analyze whether the interindividual variations in floral morphology of each population imply in corresponding variations in the reproductive success; (III) to analyze whether such variations are the result of local processes of pollinator-mediated selection; (IV) to determine the genetic variability of the species and its populations, the structuration of this variability and the gene flow, correlating with the geographic patterns of variation and local structuration of the flower and pollinator morphological traits.