Gene flow through pollen and seed dispersal is important in terms of population differentiation and eventually speciation. Seed and pollen flow are affected in turn by habitats and pollen vectors. We examined the effect of different pollinators and habitats on gene flow by comparing two species of Streptocarpus, using microsatellite and chloroplast RFLP markers. Populations of the forest-dwelling S. primulifolius were highly differentiated according to nuclear microsatellite data and had mutually exclusive chloroplast haplotypes. This result is congruent with infrequent seed dispersal and limited between-population foraging by the long-tongued fly pollinator Stenobasipteron wiedemanni. In contrast, populations of S. dunnii growing in exposed crags had lower levels of population differentiation according to both nuclear and chloroplast data, congruent with a hypothesis of more effective between population seed dispersal and greater pollen-mediated gene flow due to the sunbird pollinator Nectarinia famosa. The population genetic behavior of these species is reflected in their taxonomy and phylogenetic position; S. primulifolius belongs to a taxonomically complex clade in which recent speciation is evident, while the clade containing S. dunnii is characterized by taxonomically well-defined species on longer phylogenetic branches. Our study shows that pollinator movements and seed dispersal patterns are a major determinant of the evolutionary trajectories of these species.
The impact of pollination syndrome and habitat on gene flow: a comparative study of two Streptocarpus (Gesneriaceae) species.
Publication: American Journal of Botany