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BIPARENTAL INBREEDING AND INTERREMNANT MATING IN A PERENNIAL PRAIRIE PLANT: FITNESS CONSEQUENCES FOR PROGENY IN THEIR FIRST EIGHT YEARS

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Abstract

Despite fundamental importance to population dynamics, mating system evolution, and conservation management, the fitness consequences of breeding patterns in natural settings are rarely directly and rigorously evaluated. We experimentally crossed Echinacea angustifolia, a widespread, perennial prairie plant undergoing radical changes in distribution and abundance due to habitat fragmentation. We quantified the effects of both biparental inbreeding and crossing between remnant populations on progeny survival and reproduction in the field over the first eight years. Lifetime fitness is notoriously difficult to assess particularly for iteroparous species because of the long sequence and episodic nature of selection events. Even with fitness data in hand, analysis is typically plagued by nonnormal distributions of overall fitness that violate the assumptions of the usual parametric statistical approaches. We applied aster modeling, which integrates the measurements of separate, sequential, nonnormally distributed annual fitness components, and estimated current biparental inbreeding depression at 68% in progeny of sibling-mating. The effect of between-remnant crossing on fitness was negligible. Given that relatedness among individuals in remnant populations is already high and dispersal very limited, inbreeding depression may profoundly affect future dynamics and persistence of these populations, as well as their genetic composition.

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