Extreme environments select for reproductive assurance: evidence from evening primroses (Oenothera)

Authors


Author for correspondence:
Margaret E. K. Evans
Tel: +33 140793366
Email: margaret.ekevans@gmail.com

Summary

  • Competing evolutionary forces shape plant breeding systems (e.g. inbreeding depression, reproductive assurance). Which of these forces prevails in a given population or species is predicted to depend upon such factors as life history, ecological conditions, and geographical context. Here, we examined two such predictions: that self-compatibility should be associated with the annual life history or extreme climatic conditions.
  • We analyzed data from a clade of plants remarkable for variation in breeding system, life history and climatic conditions (Oenothera, sections Anogra and Kleinia, Onagraceae). We used a phylogenetic comparative approach and Bayesian or hybrid Bayesian tests to account for phylogenetic uncertainty. Geographic information system (GIS)-based climate data and ecological niche modeling allowed us to quantify climatic conditions.
  • Breeding system and reproductive life span are not correlated in Anogra and Kleinia. Instead, self-compatibility is associated with the extremes of temperature in the coldest part of the year and precipitation in the driest part of the year.
  • In the 60 yr since this pattern was anticipated, this is the first demonstration of a relationship between the evolution of self-compatibility and climatic extremes. We discuss possible explanations for this pattern and possible implications with respect to anthropogenic climate change.

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