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Buzz in Paris: flower production and plant–pollinator interactions in plants from contrasted urban and rural origins

Desaegher, James, Nadot, Sophie, Dajoz, Isabelle, Colas, Bruno
Genetica 2017 v.145 no.6 pp. 513-523
Cymbalaria muralis, Geranium, Geum urbanum, Prunella vulgaris, flowering, foraging, habitat fragmentation, insects, landscapes, pollinators, rural areas, urban areas, urban population, urbanization, France
Urbanisation, associated with habitat fragmentation, affects pollinator communities and insect foraging behaviour. These biotic changes are likely to select for modified traits in insect-pollinated plants from urban populations compared to rural populations. To test this hypothesis, we conducted an experiment involving four plant species commonly found in both urban and rural landscapes of the Île-de-France region (France): Cymbalaria muralis, Geranium robertianum, Geum urbanum and Prunella vulgaris. The four species were grown in four urban and four rural experimental sites in 2015. For each species and each experimental site, plants were grown from seeds collected in five urban and five rural locations. During flowering, we observed flower production and insect–flower interactions during 14 weeks and tested for the effects of experimental site location and plant origin on flower production and on the number of floral visits. The study species had various flower morphology and hence were visited by different floral visitors. The effect of experimental sites and seed origin also varied among study species. We found that (1) insect visits on P. vulgaris were more frequent in rural than in urban sites; (2) for C. muralis, the slope relating the number of pollinator visits to the number of flowers per individual was steeper in urban versus rural sites, suggesting a greater benefit in allocating resources to flower production in urban conditions; (3) as a likely consequence, C. muralis tended to produce more flowers in plants from urban versus rural origin.