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Genetic and Environmental Variation in Life-History Traits of a Monocarpic Perennial: A Decade-Long Field Experiment

Diane R. Campbell
Evolution
Vol. 51, No. 2 (Apr., 1997), pp. 373-382
DOI: 10.2307/2411109
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411109
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Genetic and Environmental Variation in Life-History Traits of a Monocarpic Perennial: A Decade-Long Field Experiment
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Abstract

Directional and stabilizing selection tend to deplete additive genetic variance. On the other hand, genetic variance in traits related to fitness could be retained through polygenic mutation, spatially varying selection, genotype-environment interaction, or antagonistic pleiotropy. Most estimates of genetic variance in fitness-related traits have come from laboratory studies, with few estimates of heritability made under natural conditions, particularly for longer lived organisms. Here I estimated additive genetic variance in life-history characters of a monocarpic herb, Ipomopsis aggregata, that lives for up to a decade. Experimental crosses yielded 229 full-sibships nested within 32 paternal half-sibships. More than 5000 offspring were planted as seeds into natural field sites and were followed in most cases through their entire life cycle. Survival showed substantial additive genetic variance (genetic coefficient of variation ≈ 54%). Small differences at seedling emergence were magnified over time, such that the genetic variability in survival was only detectable by tracking the success of offspring for several years starting from seed. In contrast to survival, reproductive traits such as flower number, seeds per flower, and age at flowering showed little or no genetic variability. Despite relatively high levels of additive genetic variation for some life-history characters, high environmental variance in survival resulted in very low heritabilities (0-9%) for all of these characters. Maternal effects were evident in seed mass and remained strong throughout the lengthy vegetative period. No negative genetic correlations between major components of female fitness were detected. Mean corolla width for a paternal family was, however, negatively correlated with the finite rate of increase based on female fitness. That negative correlation could help to maintain additive genetic variance in the face of strong selection through male function for wide corollas.

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