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Keywords:

  • Banksia ilicifolia;
  • endemism;
  • heterosis;
  • inbreeding depression;
  • metapopulation;
  • population fragmentation;
  • root carboxylates

Abstract

To assess whether wide outcrossing (over 30 km) in the naturally fragmented Banksia ilicifolia R.Br. increases the ecological amplitude of offspring, we performed a comparative greenhouse growth study involving seedlings of three hand-pollinated progeny classes (self, local outcross, wide outcross) and a range of substrates and stress conditions. Outcrossed seedlings outperformed selfed seedlings, with the magnitude of inbreeding depression as high as 62% for seed germination and 37% for leaf area. Wide outcrossed seedlings outperformed local outcrossed seedlings, especially in non-native soils, facilitated in part by an improved capacity to overcome soil constraints through greater root carboxylate exudation. Soil type significantly affected seedling growth, and waterlogging and water deficit decreased growth, production of cluster roots, root exudation and total plant P uptake. Our results suggest that the interaction of narrow ecological amplitude and the genetic consequences of small fragmented populations may in part explain the narrow range of local endemics, but that wide outcrossing may provide opportunities for increased genetic variation, increased ecological amplitude and range expansion.