Pollen limitation and natural selection on floral characters in the yellow monkeyflower, Mimulus guttatus

Lila Fishman, John H. Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


• In flowering plants, pollen limitation has been proposed to intensify selection on floral characters important in pollinator attraction, but may also select for traits that increase seed set through autonomous selfing. • Here, a factorial design (± pollen addition, ± pollinator removal) was used to investigate how the pollination environment affects selection on floral morphology via female fitness in a mixed-mating population of the yellow monkeyflower, Mimulus guttatus (Phrymaceae). • Female fitness was strongly pollen-limited, with supplementally pollinated plants setting 37% more seeds than open-pollinated individuals. Strong positive selection was found on flower length, weak positive selection on flower width : length ratio and no selection on stigma-anther distance in both open-pollinated and supplementally pollinated treatments. By contrast, flowers with relatively narrow corollas and low stigma-anther distances were favored in the pollinator exclusion treatment. • These results provide mixed support for the idea that pollen limitation intensifies selection on floral characters. Despite strong phenotypic selection, natural pollen limitation did not mediate selection on characters associated with either pollinator attraction or self-fertilization. However, the novel pattern of selection on severely pollen-limited plants suggests that reproductive assurance against pollinator loss may have been directly involved in the floral evolution of closely related selfing taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-810
Number of pages9
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Floral evolution
  • Mating system
  • Mimulus (monkeyflowers)
  • Phenotypic selection
  • Pollen limitation


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