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Beyond flora batemania: gender biases in selection for pollination success

For over a decade, Bateman's principle has been used to argue that the showy petals and sweet nectar of flowers are evolutionarily more male than female-that they are adaptations principally for promoting the export of pollen rather than the setting of seed. Here we present alternative views. (1) We question whether the assumptions of Bateman's principle have been generally upheld for angiosperms. (2) We present a path model that contradicts Bateman's principle by asserting that floral attractiveness characters might well affect fitness more deterministically through female than through male function. (3) We envision an episodic selection scenario that has the same outcome as Bateman's principle but is based specifically on the ecology and mechanics of pollination . In the end we recognize that selection on the displays and reward of flowers is probably often gender biased (one way or the other), but we warn against reflexive invocation of Bateman's principle, which is neither the only nor the best way to think about the problem.

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