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Frequency-dependent variation in reproductive success in Narcissus: implications for the maintenance of stigma-height dimorphism.


Negative frequency-dependent selection is a major selective force maintaining sexual polymorphisms. However, empirical demonstrations of frequency-dependent reproductive success are rare, particularly in plants. We investigate this problem by manipulating the frequencies of style morphs in a natural population of Narcissus assoanus, a self-incompatible herb with style-length dimorphism and intra-morph compatibility. We predicted that the reproductive success of morphs would vary negatively with their frequency because of the effects of morph-specific differences in sex-organ position on patterns of pollen transfer. This prediction was generally supported. The fruit and seed set of the two morphs did not differ significantly in plots with 1 : 1 morph ratios. However, short-styled plants produced significantly fewer seeds than long-styled plants in monomorphic plots, and significantly more seeds than long-styled plants in plots with 'long-biased' morph ratios. These patterns indicate that in the absence of physiological barriers to intra-morph mating, negative frequency-dependent selection contributes to the maintenance of stylar polymorphism through inter-morph pollen transfer. Our experimental results also provide insights into the mechanisms governing the biased style-morph ratios in populations of Narcissus species.


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    Biological Evolution
    Genetic Variation
    Polymorphism, Genetic
    Selection, Genetic
    Sex Characteristics

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article
    Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't



    PubMed ID