Skip to main content
Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2022 Abstracts

Pollinators Role in an Ongoing Speciation Event

Presenter: Samantha Ingram
Authors: Samantha Ingram, Michael Rotter
Faculty Advisor: Michael Rotter
Institution: Utah Valley University

There are many factors that contribute to speciation events. Importantly in plants, pollinators can have a large impact on breeding between different individuals. This discrimination of pollinators is driven by a variety of morphological traits in the plant, therefore possibly leading specific pollinators to having a strong plant preference. This knowledge leads to the question: Do pollinators discriminate between sub-species of rabbitbrush? Rabbitbrush is a widespread shrub with 21 described subspecies that overlap across their range. Studying these differences can be important for predicting gene flow and how speciation events may start to occur. The methods for this study will be completed in a series of experiments using two subspecies of rabbitbrush; multiple observational field trials, manipulated greenhouse experiment, chemical analysis, and floral microbiome research.We expect that due to the floral morphological differences, pollinators will favor one subspecies of rabbitbrush over the other. Therefore, providing evidence of pollinator impact on speciation events. This study will provide understanding of ongoing diversification events of rabbitbrush. Therefore, contributing to the more general anddeeper understanding of how ecological roles, between pollinator and plant, contribute to evolution. It also may answer questions about what makes a species a species or subspecies.