Pollinator-mediated selection plays a major role in floral evolution and speciation. Floral traits that influence animal pollinator behavior are the target of pollinator-mediated selection, but can only evolve if floral phenotypes have underlying genetic variation. Thus, understanding the genetic basis of a floral trait is a crucial step in studying pollinator-mediated selection. In this study I tested the effect of quantitative trait loci (QTL) underlying floral traits on pollinator behavior in recombinant inbred lines (RILs) in the common sunflower, Helianthus annuus L. and its crop relative. The indirect effects of QTL on pollinator behavior, mediated by floral phenotypes, were analyzed for six insect visitor types using structural equation modeling (SEM) and path analysis. For three of the six visitor types (large and small bees and non-bee insects) valid models were revealed when all three levels (QTL, floral traits, and pollinator behavior) were incorporated. Nested model without genetics were validated for five of the six visitor types. The results suggest that insect behavior as a reaction to floral phenotypes is affected by the genetic architecture of floral traits.
- Floral evolution
- Insect behavior
- Path analysis
- Pollination ecology
- Pollinator-mediated selection