Time after time: flowering phenology and biotic interactions

Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, CH 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Impact Factor: 15.35). 09/2007; 22(8):432-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.05.006
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The role of biotic interactions in shaping plant flowering phenology has long been controversial; plastic responses to the abiotic environment, limited precision of biological clocks and inconsistency of selection pressures have generally been emphasized to explain phenological variation. However, part of this variation is heritable and selection analyses show that biotic interactions can modulate selection on flowering phenology. Our review of the literature indicates that pollinators tend to favour peak or earlier flowering, whereas pre-dispersal seed predators tend to favour off-peak or later flowering. However, effects strongly vary among study systems. To understand such variation, future studies should address the impact of mutualist and antagonist dispersal ability, ecological specialization, and habitat and plant population characteristics. Here, we outline future directions to study how such interactions shape flowering phenology.

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