• Additive variance;
  • cockerham and weir “bio” model c;
  • dead-end hypothesis;
  • dominance variance;
  • maternal effects;
  • mating system

Self-fertilization is expected to reduce genetic diversity within populations and consequently to limit adaptability to changing environments. Little is known, however, about the way the evolution of self-fertilization changes the amount or pattern of the components of genetic variation in natural populations. In this study, a reciprocal North Carolina II design and maximum-likelihood methods were implemented to investigate the genetic basis of variation for 15 floral and vegetative traits in four populations of the annual plant Amsinckia spectabilis (Boraginaceae) differing in mating system. Six variance components were estimated according to Cockerham and Weir's “bio” model c. Compared to the three partially selfing populations, we found significantly lower levels of nuclear variance for several traits in the nearly completely self-fertilizing population. Furthermore, for 11 of 15 traits we did not detect nuclear variation to be significantly greater than zero. We also found high maternal variance in one of the partially selfing populations for several traits, and little dominance variance in any population. These results are in agreement with the evolutionary dead-end hypothesis for highly self-fertilizing taxa.