Evol Ecol Res 11: 471-481 (2009)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

A model for polyandry in oaks via female choice: a rigged lottery

Kathleen J. Craft, Joel S. Brown, Antonio J. Golubski# and Mary V. Ashley

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Correspondence: M.V. Ashley, Department of Biological Sciences, M/C 066, University of Illinois at Chicago, 845 W. Taylor St., Chicago, IL 60607, USA.
e-mail: ashley@uic.edu


Questions: Why do oaks produce surplus ovules and abort fertilized embryos? How do remote stands of oaks have such genetically diverse offspring?

Mathematical methods: Two-phase weighted lottery held in each female flower. Pollen clouds are modelled using one of two different functions to relate each father’s representation among the pollen pool at a maternal tree to its distance from the maternal tree.

Key assumptions: Flowers act independently of each other. All ovules of each flower are fertilized. One embryo matures to become an acorn and all other embryos are aborted. Lottery #1 is based solely on each ‘father’s’ geographic distance from each maternal tree. Closer fathers have a higher chance of fertilizing an ovule and winning the first lottery. Lottery #2 is based on maternal choice. Female flowers selectively abort embryos fertilized by ‘common’ fathers. ‘Common’ fathers are those that are over-represented among each flower’s embryos.

Predictions: Offspring diversity is maximized at an intermediate number of ovules. The number and distribution of fathers in the pollen cloud affect how many ovules are necessary to reach maximum diversity.

Conclusions: Oaks may use a novel form of pollen competition, a weighted lottery system, to increase polyandry. This evolutionary strategy may explain the observed high offspring genetic diversity in this genus.

Keywords: maternal choice, model, oaks, polyandry, Quercus, theoretical model.

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