When can stress facilitate divergence by altering time to flowering?

Crispin Jordan, Dilara Ally, Kathryn A. Hodgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stressors and heterogeneity are ubiquitous features of natural environments, and theory suggests that when environmental qualities alter flowering schedules through phenotypic plasticity, assortative mating can result that promotes evolutionary divergence. Therefore, it is important to determine whether common ecological stressors induce similar changes in flowering time. We review previous studies to determine whether two important stressors, water restriction and herbivory, induce consistent flowering time responses among species; for example, how often do water restriction and herbivory both delay flowering? We focus on the direction of change in flowering time, which affects the potential for divergence in heterogeneous environments. We also tested whether these stressors influenced time to flowering and nonphenology traits using Mimulus guttatus. The literature review suggests that water restriction has variable effects on flowering time, whereas herbivory delays flowering with exceptional consistency. In the Mimulus experiment, low water and herbivory advanced and delayed flowering, respectively. Overall, our results temper theoretical predictions for evolutionary divergence due to habitat-induced changes in flowering time; in particular, we discuss how accounting for variation in the direction of change in flowering time can either increase or decrease the potential for divergence. In addition, we caution against adaptive interpretations of stress-induced phenology shifts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)n/a-n/a
JournalEcology and Evolution
Early online date9 Dec 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Dec 2015


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