TITLE

Highly local environmental variability promotes intrapopulation divergence of quantitative traits: an example from tropical rain forest trees

AUTHOR(S)
Brousseau, Louise; Bonal, Damien; Cigna, Jeremy; Scotti, Ivan
PUB. DATE
December 2013
SOURCE
Annals of Botany;Dec2013, Vol. 112 Issue 6, p1169
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Background and Aims In habitat mosaics, plant populations face environmental heterogeneity over short geographical distances. Such steep environmental gradients can induce ecological divergence. Lowland rainforests of the Guiana Shield are characterized by sharp, short-distance environmental variations related to topography and soil characteristics (from waterlogged bottomlands on hydromorphic soils to well-drained terra firme on ferralitic soils). Continuous plant populations distributed along such gradients are an interesting system to study intrapopulation divergence at highly local scales. This study tested (1) whether conspecific populations growing in different habitats diverge at functional traits, and (2) whether they diverge in the same way as congeneric species having different habitat preferences. Methods Phenotypic differentiation was studied within continuous populations occupying different habitats for two congeneric, sympatric, and ecologically divergent tree species (Eperua falcata and E. grandiflora, Fabaceae). Over 3000 seeds collected from three habitats were germinated and grown in a common garden experiment, and 23 morphological, biomass, resource allocation and physiological traits were measured. Key Results In both species, seedling populations native of different habitats displayed phenotypic divergence for several traits (including seedling growth, biomass allocation, leaf chemistry, photosynthesis and carbon isotope composition). This may occur through heritable genetic variation or other maternally inherited effects. For a sub-set of traits, the intraspecific divergence associated with environmental variation coincided with interspecific divergence. Conclusions The results indicate that mother trees from different habitats transmit divergent trait values to their progeny, and suggest that local environmental variation selects for different trait optima even at a very local spatial scale. Traits for which differentiation within species follows the same pattern as differentiation between species indicate that the same ecological processes underlie intra- and interspecific variation.
ACCESSION #
90504700

 

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