Plant traits that show little variation across higher taxa are often used as diagnostic traits, but the reason for the stasis of such traits remains unclear. Wild radish, Raphanus raphanistrum, exhibits tetradynamous stamens (four long and two short, producing a dimorphism in anther height within each flower), as do the vast majority of the more than 3000 species in the Brassicaceae. Here we examine the hypothesis that selection maintains the stasis of dimorphic anther height by investigating the effects of this trait on pollen removal, seed siring success, and seed set in R. raphanistrum using both experimental and observational methods. Observational selection gradient analysis based on lifetime seed siring success provided evidence for an optimum dimorphism that was greater than zero in one of three years. In both experimentally manipulated and unmanipulated flowers, more pollen was removed in single visits from flowers with less dimorphism. There was no significant effect of anther dimorphism on female fitness (seed set). Therefore, there is some evidence to suggest that selection is maintaining anther dimorphism in wild radish, and that higher male fitness might result from restriction of single-visit pollen removal. We discuss these results in light of pollen presentation theory.
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Vol. 57 • No. 3