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Evidence for shared broad-scale climatic niches of diploid and polyploid plants

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Abstract

Whole-genome duplication (polyploidy) occurs frequently and repeatedly within species, often forming new lineages that contribute to biodiversity, particularly in plants. Establishment and persistence of new polyploids may be thwarted by competition with surrounding diploids; however, climatic niche shifts, where polyploids occupy different niches than diploid progenitors, may help polyploids overcome this challenge. We tested for climatic niche shifts between cytotypes using a new ordination approach and an unprecedentedly large data set containing young, conspecific diploids and polyploids. Despite expectations of frequent niche shifts, we show evidence for alternative patterns, such as niche conservatism and contraction, rather than a prevalent pattern of niche shifts. In addition, we explore how interpreting climatic niches plotted on environmental niche (principal component) axes can generate hypotheses about processes underlying niche dynamics. Dispersal capabilities or other life-history traits, rather than shifts to new climatic niches, could better explain polyploid persistence in the long term.

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