Document Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2010

Capstone Advisor

Kari Segraves

Honors Reader

David Althoff

Capstone Major

Biology

Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component

no

Capstone Prize Winner

no

Won Capstone Funding

yes

Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Biology | Genetics and Genomics

Abstract

Sexual selection is an important mechanism of speciation. Originally studied in animals, researchers now argue that plants also exhibit characteristics that have been altered by sexual selection. Flower size, nectar production, pollen load, flower scent, and petal color are plant traits that participate in attracting mates through an intermediate pollinator. Although female choice has been demonstrated to enhance offspring quality in animals, a thorough analysis remains to be conducted in plants. In this study, I experimentally altered female choice by manipulating flower number on the hermaphroditic plant, Raphanus raphanistrum. Plants with smaller floral displays had reduced female choice; thus, allowing me to determine whether female choice can play a role in improving offspring quality. The effect of this manipulation was determined by measuring seed production, seed mass, and assessing offspring quality via a growth experiment in which time of germination, time of flowering, and aboveground biomass were determined. The results indicated that female choice did not result in improved offspring quality as there were no differences in time to germination, time to flowering, and aboveground biomass. Mean seed mass was greater for individuals with fewer flowers, implying that there may have been a tradeoff due to resource limitation. I conclude that although differences in offspring quality were not detected in the present greenhouse study in which there was unlimited nutrients and lack of competition, the results may have differed if progeny were grown in the field under natural conditions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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