Environmental impact on the temporal production of chasmogamous and cleistogamous flowers in the mixed breeding system of Viola pubescens

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© 2020 Sternberger et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Viola pubescens is a perennial, mixed breeding herb that produces both chasmogamous and cleistogamous flowers at different times of the season. Once bud type is specified, it does not convert from one form to the other. While temporal production of the two flowers is known to be influenced by environmental factors, the specific environmental cues that signal emergence of each flower type have not been empirically studied. To investigate the environmental parameters driving seasonal development of chasmogamous versus cleistogamous flowers, a native V. pubescens population was examined during the spring and summer of 2016 and 2017. Measurements of light quantity, canopy cover, photoperiod, temperature, soil moisture, soil pH, and the number of chasmogamous and cleistogamous buds were collected on either a weekly or biweekly basis. Independent zero-inflated negative binomial (ZINB) regressions were used to model the odds of bud production (0 versus 1 bud) and bud counts (≥ 1 bud) as a function of the environmental variables. Results of the ZINB models highlight key differences between the environmental variables that influence chasmogamous versus cleistogamous bud development and counts. In addition to the ZINB regressions, individual logistic regressions were fit to the bud data. The logistic models support results of the ZINB models and, more crucially, identify specific environmental thresholds at which each bud type is probable. Collectively, this work offers novel insight into how environmental variables shape temporal development of chasmogamous and cleistogamous flowers, suggests distinct threshold values that may aid in selectively inducing each flower type, and provides insight into how climatic change may impact mixed breeding species.