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Keywords:

  • Biotic environment;
  • community and ecosystem genetics;
  • genotype by genotype interactions;
  • genotypic variation;
  • plant–neighbour interactions;
  • plant–plant interactions;
  • pollination;
  • Solidago

Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 65–73

Abstract

Intra- and interspecific plant–plant interactions are fundamental to patterns of community assembly and to the mixture effects observed in biodiversity studies. Although much research has been conducted at the species level, very little is understood about how genetic variation within and among interacting species may drive these processes. Using clones of both Solidago altissima and Solidago gigantea, we found that genotypic variation in a plant’s neighbours affected both above- and belowground plant traits, and that genotype by genotype interactions between neighbouring plants impacted associated pollinator communities. The traits for which focal plant genotypic variation explained the most variation varied by plant species, whereas neighbour genotypic variation explained the most variation in coarse root biomass. Our results provide new insight into genotypic and species diversity effects in plant–neighbour interactions, the extended consequences of diversity effects, and the potential for evolution in response to competitive or to facilitative plant–neighbour interactions.