Abstract Detail


De La Pascua, Danielle [1], Smith-Winterscheidt, Corrinne [2], Dowell, Jordan [3], Goolsby, Eric [3], Mason, Chase [3].

Evolutionary trade-offs in the chemical defense of floral and fruit tissues across genus Cornus.

Premise of the study. Defense investment in plant reproductive structures is relatively understudied compared to the defense of vegetative organs. Here the evolution of chemical defenses in reproductive structures is examined in light of the optimal defense, apparency, and resource availability hypotheses within the genus Cornus using a phylogenetic comparative approach in relation to phenology and native habitat environmental data. Methods. Individuals representing 25 Cornus species were tracked for reproductive phenology over a full growing season at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. Floral, fruit, and leaf tissue was sampled to quantify defensive chemistry as well as fruit nutritional traits relevant to bird dispersal. Native habitat environmental characteristics were estimated using locality data from digitized herbarium records coupled with global soil and climate datasets. Key Results. The evolution of later flowering was correlated with increased floral tannins, and the evolution of later fruiting was correlated with increased total phenolics. Leaves were observed to contain the highest tannin activity while inflorescences contained the highest total flavonoids. Multiple aspects of fruit defensive chemistry were correlated with fruit nutritional traits. Floral and fruit defensive chemistry were evolutionarily correlated with aspects of native habitat temperature, precipitation, and soil characteristics. Conclusions. Results provide tentative support for the apparency hypothesis with respect to both flower and fruit phenology, while relative concentrations of secondary metabolites across organs provide mixed support for the optimal defense hypothesis. The evolution of reproductive defense with native habitat provides at best mixed support for the resource availability hypothesis.

1 - University of California Davis, Population Biology, Davis, CA, 95616
2 - Harvard, Arnold Arboretum, Boston, MA, 02131
3 - University of Central Florida, Department of Biology, Orlando, FL, 32816

chemical defense
evolutionary ecology
resources availability hypothesis
optimal defense hypothesis.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ECO6, Ecology 6: Reproductive Ecology
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Friday, July 31st, 2020
Time: 10:30 AM
Number: ECO6003
Abstract ID:166
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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