This week EEB welcomes Dr. Emily Austen of the University of Ottawa who will present:
Better to be young, early, or big? Disentangling the causes of selection on flowering time.
Timing matters. In annual plants, for example, flowering time not only affects age at flowering, but also size at reproduction, and the quality of environment experienced (i.e. exposure to pollinators, herbivores, and abiotic stresses). Age, size, and environment can all conceivably affect seed production (female fitness) or seed siring (male fitness), but the intrinsic correlations between these factors impede our understanding of their independent fitness effects. Through a novel experimental manipulation, I teased apart the three factors to uncover the causes of selection on flowering time. This work revealed that the the causes of selection can differ through male and female fitness, and it prompted new hypotheses regarding the maintenance of variation in male fertility. Flowering time is implicated in climate change response, species invasion, reproductive isolation, and other processes of current interest. Manipulative experiments, such as that described here, will be critical to moving from asking how selection acts on this key life history trait to understanding why.
The EEB Seminars run weekly, on Thursdays, in the EEB Lounge of the BioSciences Complex, Room 4338, from 12:30-1:30pm. Light refreshments are served starting at 12:15.