Pollinator-mediated selection on floral size and tube color in Linum pubescens: Can differential behavior and preference in different times of the day maintain dimorphism?

Merav Lebel, Uri Obolski, Lilach Hadany, Yuval Sapir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Diversity of flower traits is often proposed as the outcome of selection exerted by pollinators. Positive directional pollinator-mediated selection on floral size has been widely shown to reduce phenotypic variance. However, the underlying mechanism of maintaining within-population floral color polymorphism is poorly understood. Divergent selection, mediated by different pollinators or by both mutualists and antagonists, may create and maintain such polymorphism, but it has rarely been shown to result from differential behavior of one pollinator. We tested whether different behaviors of the same pollinators in morning and evening are associated with dimorphic floral trait in Linum pubescens, a Mediterranean annual plant that exhibits variable within-population frequencies of dark- and light-colored flower tubes. Usia bicolor bee-flies, the major pollinators of L. pubescens, are mostly feeding in the flower in the morning, while in the evening they are mostly visiting the flowers for mating. In 2 years of studying L. pubescens in a single large population in the Carmel, Israel, we found in one year that dark-centered flowers received significantly higher fraction of visits in the morning. Fitness was positively affected by number of visits, but no fitness differences were found between tube-color morphs, suggesting that both morphs have similar pollination success. Using mediation analysis, we found that flower size was under positive directional pollinator-mediated selection in both years, but pollinator behavior did not explain entirely this selection, which was possibly mediated also by other agents, such as florivores or a-biotic stresses. While most pollinator-mediated selection studies show that flower size signals food reward, in L. pubescens, it may also signal for mating place, which may drive positive selection. While flower size found to be under pollinator-mediated selection in L. pubescens, differential behavior of the pollinators in morning and evening did not seem to explain flower color polymorphism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1106
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2018


FundersFunder number
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv University


    • Bombyliidae
    • divergent selection
    • insect behavior
    • maternal fitness
    • mating rendezvous
    • phenotypic variation
    • pollinator-mediated selection


    Dive into the research topics of 'Pollinator-mediated selection on floral size and tube color in Linum pubescens: Can differential behavior and preference in different times of the day maintain dimorphism?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this