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Keywords:

  • altitude;
  • climatic gradient;
  • clinal variation;
  • invasive plant;
  • maternal environment;
  • seed mass

Abstract

Population differentiation of alien invasive plants within their non-native range has received increasingly more attention. Common gardens are typically used to assess the levels of genotypic differentiation among populations. However, in such experiments, environmental maternal effects can influence phenotypic variation among individuals if seed sources are collected from field populations under variable environmental regimes. In the present study, we investigated the causes of an altitudinal cline in an invasive plant. Seeds were collected from Senecio inaequidens (Asteraceae) populations along an altitudinal gradient in southern France. In addition, seeds from the same populations were generated by intra-population crossings in a climatic chamber. The two seed lots were grown in a common garden in Central Belgium to identify any evidence of environmentally induced maternal effects and/or an altitudinal cline in a suite of life-history traits. Results failed to detect any environmental maternal effects. However, an altitudinal cline in plant height and above-ground biomass was found to be independent of the maternal environment.