Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (5): 510-518.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2018065

Special Issue: 青藏高原生物多样性与生态安全 传粉生物学

• Original Papers • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Responses of floral longevity to pollination environments in 11 species from two alpine meadows

Yuxian Wang1, Zuojun Liu1,*(), Zhigang Zhao2, Meng Hou2, Xiaorui Zhang1, Wanling Lü1   

  1. 1 School of Life Science and Engineering, Lanzhou University of Technology, Lanzhou 730050
    2 School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-Ecosystems, Lanzhou 730000
  • Received:2018-02-27 Accepted:2018-04-26 Online:2018-05-20 Published:2018-09-11
  • Contact: Liu Zuojun
  • About author:# Co-first authors


Floral longevity, the length of time that a flower remains open and functional, varies greatly among species. The high plasticity of floral longevity can reflect an adaptation to variable pollination environments. In the alpine meadows of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (2,900 m vs. 3,600 m), we assessed how potential floral longevity, the shortest floral longevity and the actual floral longevity of 11 species varied under treatments of different pollination contexts. We modeled the response of floral longevity to pollinator exclusion (potential floral longevity minus actual floral longevity) and supplemental pollination (actual longevity minus shortest longevity), and the plasticity of floral longevity (potential longevity minus shortest longevity) at high and low altitude habitats. We found that the plants at the high-altitude community had longer potential floral longevity compared to the low-altitude community, while the shortest floral longevity was not significantly different. Furthermore, pollinator exclusion significantly increased flower longevity, while supplemental pollination significantly decreased floral longevity (i.e. the potential floral longevity > the actual floral longevity > the shortest floral longevity) in both high and low-altitude habitats. In comparison with the low-altitude community, high-altitude plants exhibited higher plasticity of floral longevity. Overall, our results suggest that greater plasticity of floral longevity may increase the opportunity for pollination and thus aid fitness at higher altitudes where pollinators are scarce and unpredictable.

Key words: alpine meadow, floral longevity, plasticity, pollination, altitude