Repeated evolution of vertebrate pollination syndromes in a recently diverged Andean plant clade
© 2017 The Author(s). Evolution © 2017 The Society for the Study of Evolution. Although specialized interactions, including those involving plants and their pollinators, are often invoked to explain high species diversity, they are rarely explored at macroevolutionary scales. We investigate the dynamic evolution of hummingbird and bat pollination syndromes in the centropogonid clade (Lobelioideae: Campanulaceae), an Andean-centered group of ∼550 angiosperm species. We demonstrate that flowers hypothesized to be adapted to different pollinators based on flower color fall into distinct regions of morphospace, and this is validated by morphology of species with known pollinators. This supports the existence of pollination syndromes in the centropogonids, an idea corroborated by ecological studies. We further demonstrate that hummingbird pollination is ancestral, and that bat pollination has evolved ∼13 times independently, with ∼11 reversals. This convergence is associated with correlated evolution of floral traits within selective regimes corresponding to pollination syndrome. Collectively, our results suggest that floral morphological diversity is extremely labile, likely resulting from selection imposed by pollinators. Finally, even though this clade's rapid diversification is partially attributed to their association with vertebrate pollinators, we detect no difference in diversification rates between hummingbird- and bat-pollinated lineages. Our study demonstrates the utility of pollination syndromes as a proxy for ecological relationships in macroevolutionary studies of certain species-rich clades.