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Evolution of the Magnitude and Timing of Inbreeding Depression in Plants

Brian C. Husband and Douglas W. Schemske
Evolution
Vol. 50, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 54-70
DOI: 10.2307/2410780
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410780
Page Count: 17
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Evolution of the Magnitude and Timing of Inbreeding Depression in Plants
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Abstract

Estimates of inbreeding depression obtained from the literature were used to evaluate the association between inbreeding depression and the degree of self-fertilization in natural plant populations. Theoretical models predict that the magnitude of inbreeding depression will decrease with inbreeding as deleterious recessive alleles are expressed and purged through selection. If selection acts differentially among life history stages and deleterious effects are uncorrelated among stages, then the timing of inbreeding depression may also evolve with inbreeding. Estimates of cumulative inbreeding depression and stage-specific inbreeding depression (four stages: seed production of parent, germination, juvenile survival, and growth/reproduction) were compiled for 79 populations (using means of replicates, N = 62) comprising 54 species from 23 families of vascular plants. Where available, data on the mating system also were collected and used as a measure of inbreeding history A significant negative correlation was found between cumulative inbreeding depression and the primary selfing rate for the combined sample of angiosperms (N = 35) and gymnosperms (N = 9); the correlation was significant for angiosperms but not gymnosperms examined separately The average inbreeding depression in predominantly selfing species (δ = 0.23) was significantly less (43%) than that in predominantly outcrossing species (δ = 0.53). These results support the theoretical prediction that selfing reduces the magnitude of inbreeding depression. Most self-fertilizing species expressed the majority of their inbreeding depression late in the life cycle, at the stage of growth/reproduction (14 of 18 species), whereas outcrossing species expressed much of their inbreeding depression either early, at seed production (17 of 40 species), or late (19 species). For species with four life stages examined, selfing and outcrossing species differed in the magnitude of inbreeding depression at the stage of seed production (selfing δ = 0.05, N = 11, outcrossing δ = 0.32, N = 31), germination (selfing δ = 0.02, outcrossing δ = 0.12), and survival to reproduction (selfing δ = 0.04, outcrossing δ = 0.15), but not at growth and reproduction (selfing δ = 0.21, outcrossing δ = 0.27); inbreeding depression in selfers relative to outcrossers increased from early to late life stages. These results support the hypothesis that most early acting inbreeding depression is due to recessive lethals and can be purged through inbreeding, whereas much of the late-acting inbreeding depression is due to weakly deleterious mutations and is very difficult to purge, even under extreme inbreeding.

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