Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Grazers, pollinators shape plant evolution

Date:
October 21, 2013
Source:
Uppsala University
Summary:
It has long been known that the characteristics of many plants with wide ranges can vary geographically, depending on differences in climate. But changes in grazing pressure and pollination can also affect the genetic composition of natural plant populations, according to a new study.

Pyrgus malvae. The study shows that grazing pressure impacts not only which plants dominate but also the genetic composition of the plant populations.
Credit: Jon Agren

It has long been known that the characteristics of many plants with wide ranges can vary geographically, depending on differences in climate. But changes in grazing pressure and pollination can also affect the genetic composition of natural plant populations, according to a new study.

Researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University are presenting the new study this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS.

It is known that a prominent floral display increases attractiveness to pollinators, but also increases the risk of damage from grazing animals and seed-eating insects. To investigate how pollinators and grazing animals affect the characteristics of natural plant populations, these researchers studied bird's eye primrose populations in alvar grasslands on the Baltic island of Öland. Two distinct morphs of primrose occur there: a short morph that produces its flowers close to the ground and a tall morph that displays its flowers well above the ground. The tall morph is better at attracting pollinators, but, on the other hand, it is more frequently damaged by grazing animals and seed predators.

In field experiments the scientists have shown that grazing pressure and pollination intensity determine whether the short or the tall primrose morph reproduces more successfully. The difference in plant height has a genetic basis, and over time differences in reproductive success affect the genetic composition of plant populations. For a period of eight years, the researchers documented changes in the proportion of short plants in natural populations and field experiments. The results show that altered grazing pressure leads to rapid changes in the genetic composition of the primrose populations, specifically in the proportion of short plants.

The Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland has been a World Heritage Site since 2000. The grazing pressure on the alvar grasslands of Öland has increased dramatically in the last fifteen years as a result of measures taken to keep the landscape open.

The study shows that grazing pressure impacts not only which plants dominate but also the genetic composition of the plant populations. These findings help us understand how differences in environmental conditions influence the evolution of genetic differentiation among plant populations, says Professor Jon Ågren at the Evolutionary Biology Centre.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Uppsala University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jon Ågren et al. Mutualists and antagonists drive among-population variation in selection and evolution of floral display in a perennial herb. PNAS, October 2013

Cite This Page:

Uppsala University. "Grazers, pollinators shape plant evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021153210.htm>.
Uppsala University. (2013, October 21). Grazers, pollinators shape plant evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021153210.htm
Uppsala University. "Grazers, pollinators shape plant evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131021153210.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins