Pollinator-mediated selection is expected to constrain floral color variation within plant populations, yet populations with high color variability are common in nature. To explore this, we collected floral reflectance spectra for 34 populations of 14 plant species of New Mexico, USA, and translated them into three different visual spaces. We found evidence that the majority comparisons were indistinguishable to bees, the dominant pollinator group. We also found that floral color variation was significantly greater for two non-pollinating groups, birds and humans. Our results suggest that a portion of human-perceived floral color variation within populations persists because it is invisible to pollinators, and may evolve neutrally or via indirect selection on correlated characters. Our results suggest an explanation for the fact that many studies of floral color polymorphisms are unable to detect pollinator-mediated selection on color, yet often find evidence for non-pollinator-mediated selection.
plant-pollinator interactions, signaling, bee vision, nautral selection, color polymorphism
Level of Degree
UNM Biology Department
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Paine, Kellen Cedar. "Intraspecific floral color variation as perceived by pollinators and non-pollinators: evidence for pollinator-imposed constraints?." (2018). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/biol_etds/306