Authors: Joly, Simon; Lambert, Francois; Alexandre, Hermine; Clavel, Julien; Leveille-Bourret, Etienne; Clark, John L.
Publication: Evolution
Year: 2017
Genera: Bellonia, Gesneria, Rhytidophyllum

Flowers show important structural variation as reproductive organs but the evolutionary forces underlying this diversity are still poorly understood. In animal‐pollinated species, flower shape is strongly fashioned by selection imposed by pollinators, which is expected to vary according to guilds of effective pollinators. Using the Antillean subtribe Gesneriinae (Gesneriaceae), we tested the hypothesis that pollination specialists pollinated by one functional type of pollinator have maintained more similar corolla shapes through time due to more constant and stronger selection constraints compared to species with more generalist pollination strategies. Using geometric morphometrics and evolutionary models, we showed that the corolla of hummingbird specialists, bat specialists, and species with a mixed‐pollination strategy (pollinated by hummingbirds and bats; thus a more generalist strategy) have distinct shapes and that these shapes have evolved under evolutionary constraints. However, we did not find support for greater disparity in corolla shape of more generalist species. This could be because the corolla shape of more generalist species in subtribe Gesneriinae, which has evolved multiple times, is finely adapted to be effectively pollinated by both bats and hummingbirds. These results suggest that ecological generalization is not necessarily associated with relaxed selection constraints.