Inbreeding depression in an autotetraploid herb: a three cohort field study


Author for correspondence: Laura F. Galloway Tel: +1 434 982 5010 Fax: +1 434 982 5626 Email:


  • • Autotetraploids are predicted to have reduced inbreeding depression relative to diploids. However, recent theory and information on genomic changes following autopolyploidy suggest that inbreeding depression may be closer to diploids.
  • • In three consecutive years, self and outcross pollinations were conducted on autotetraploid Campanulastrum americanum, seeds were planted into native sites, and biennial offspring were followed through seed production.
  • • Inbred individuals had lower germination rates, reduced survival, were smaller, and flowered later, producing fewer fruits with fewer seeds. Inbred offspring had 6% of the cumulative fitness of outcross offspring. Although performance varied substantially among cohorts, inbreeding depression for cumulative fitness was relatively constant, with δ ranging only from 0.92 to 0.95.
  • • C. americanum, like many outcrossing species, expressed very high amounts of inbreeding depression. This supports the hypothesis that inbreeding depression of some autotetraploids may be similar to that of diploids. Furthermore, few studies have measured temporal variation in inbreeding depression. Constant inbreeding depression given a sixfold range in cohort performance suggests that inbreeding depression may be relatively robust to environmental variation experienced by natural populations.