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Making Waves
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Red Revolution On I-15
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Features May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

Red Revolution on the I-15

 
     

Forget the birds and bees. In San Diego, it’s all about hummingbirds and hawkmoths. UCSD biologists have discovered that those two animals are determining the future of red and yellow varieties of a San Diego wildflower. They report in the current issue of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology that monkeyflowers have two different animal pollinators. The red form, common along the coast, is strongly preferred by hummingbirds, while yellow monkeyflowers, found east of I-15, are favored by hawkmoths.

The researchers suspect the recent increase in San Diego’s hummingbird population, fueled by the growth of suburban developments and gardens, will eventually favor the
red over the yellow variety.

“The shift between the red- and yellow-flowered forms along any road running from the coast inland in San Diego county is one of the sharpest natural patterns residents can view in the late spring,” says Joshua Kohn, an associate professor of biology at UCSD, who conducted the study with Matthew Streisfeld. “The abundance of at least one of these
pollinators, hummingbirds, has recently increased dramatically and may well favor an eastern expansion of the red-flowered form.”

Contributors to Making Waves: Mario Aguilera, '89, Marnette Federis, '06, Beverly Gallagher, '98, Raymond Hardie and Inga Kiderra.

 

RELATED LINKS

UCSD Press Release
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Joshua Kohn's Laboratory
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UCSD Division of Biological Sciences
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