The present study explored phenotypic selection on phenological and morphological reproductive traits in hawkmoth-pollinated Platanthera bifolia (Orchidaceae), a Eurasian perennial herb displaying bisexual, long-spurred flowers. The work was carried out during three flowering seasons (1993–1995) in a Swedish population. Fitness was estimated as the number of pollinia removed (male fitness) and fruits produced (female fitness). Targets and patterns of selection were compared between years and sex functions by the use of multiple linear regression (including correlational selection estimates, i.e., of combination of traits), analysis of covariance, and projection pursuit regression (PPR). Results from the nonparametric surface-fitting-method PPR showed that selection was mostly linear, thus justifying the use of the parametric methods. In all study years, male and female fitness were highest in plants with many flowers. This reflects that flower number sets an upper limit to fitness and that a large inflorescence attracts more pollinators. In 1994, the summer was dry and the average spur length of P. bifolia was shorter than in the other years. In this year, male and female fitness were positively related to spur length, apparently because the spur of short-spurred plants was somewhat too short relative to the tongue length of the local pollinator for optimal pollen export and import. Additionally, the dry weather in 1994 caused a tendency for correlational selection, which was not found in the other years of study. Among small individuals (apparently more sensitive to drought than large ones), early-flowering plants had higher male and female fitness. The results show that patterns of selection may vary both between years and between sex functions in perennial hermaphroditic plants. The present study is one of the first to consider correlational selection in plants, which probably is of common occurrence and deserves to be investigated more.
Corresponding Editor: C. Boggs