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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Arctic Primroses

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 09/01/2006
End Date 06/30/2007
Funding Source N/A
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Last Updated 07/05/2008 01:25AM


  Matthew Carlson

Student Researchers
  Tara Harrington


The ability to self pollinate can be seen as a clear advantage in harsh arctic environments where pollinators are uncommon and where weather limits the number of days they can be active. Therefore, if arctic plants species overlap in habitat and have similar ecologies, the one that does not need pollinators will likely replace the pollinator-dependent species. To address this topic, I measured the floral morphology of 90 plants of two differently designed arctic primroses to see if the reproductive ecology of these species overlaps. Primula tschuktschorum is a very rare species of western Alaska that has two different morphological types in populations, where pollen has to move from one morph to the other for successful fertilization. Primula eximia is a monomorphic species, capable of self fertilization and is widespread. I show that the rare species has an outcrossing mating system and the common species has a self-fertilizing mating system. However, most floral features of these species strongly overlap, suggesting that reproductive interference is likely. These reproductive differences can further impact broader distribution patterns. The lesser number of pollinator-dependent plants (specifically "distylous") in the Arctic can be explained by the disadvantages of its physical features in the realm of reproduction. Essentially, as pollinators begin to decline, outcrossing species are naturally selected against and are more likely to face population-level extinctions and overall reduced range size.

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