The Comparative Biology of Pollination and Mating in Flowering Plants

Spencer C. H. Barrett, Lawrence D. Harder, Anne C. Worley


The diversification of many flowering plant families has been attributed to adaptive radiation of pollination and mating systems accompanying changes in ecology and life history. Reproductive traits in seed plants therefore provide a potentially rich source of diversity for comparative and phylogenetic studies. Here we address three topics in reproductive biology: floral allocation strategies, mating systems and life history, and the origin of complex reproductive syndromes using various comparative methods. Results from these studies generally complement and inform those obtained from previous micro-evolutionary work at the population level. Historical inferences concerning reproductive character evolution in some taxa can be hampered by topological uncertainties in tree reconstruction and a lack of resolution in molecular phylogenies. Future insights into the ecology and evolution of plant reproductive adaptations using comparative approaches will require well resolved phylogenies, particularly at the species level.