Life-history variation and adaptation in the historically mobile plant Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae) in North America
We used field-collected seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae) to simulate a colonization event of plants from diverse locations into a common environment to compare regionally "local" and "foreign" populations of this historically mobile species. Life history varied among regional groups, but most variation was found among populations within regions. While we found significant differences among populations and regional groups for important life-history characters, we did not find significant differences in performance of plants from different populations or regional groups. Rather, we found evidence that differences in life history contributed to the ability of plants from foreign regions to perform comparably to local Kentucky plants. Had plants from different regions not differed in the timing and size of reproduction, we would have seen that Kentucky (local) plants had higher total fitness via greater reproductive success of individuals that survived to reproduce and that Michigan plants would have had the lowest fitness. The populations are comparably adapted to the environment in Kentucky but through different combinations of life-history characters. Therefore, the life-history variation in this mobile species appears to contribute not to fitness differences among populations but rather to success in colonizing new locations.
Griffith, C; Kim, E; Donohue, K
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