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Fine-Grained Spatial and Temporal Variation in Selection Does Not Maintain Genetic Variation in Erigeron annuus

Donald A. Stratton and Cynthia C. Bennington
Evolution
Vol. 52, No. 3 (Jun., 1998), pp. 678-691
DOI: 10.2307/2411263
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411263
Page Count: 14
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Fine-Grained Spatial and Temporal Variation in Selection Does Not Maintain Genetic Variation in Erigeron annuus
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Abstract

Because interactions among plants are spatially local, the scale of environmental heterogeneity can have large effects on evolutionary dynamics. However, very little is known about the spatial patterns of variation in fitness and the relative magnitude of spatial and temporal variation in selection. Replicates of 12 genotypes of Erigeron annuus (Asteraceae) were planted in 288 locations within a field, separated by distances of 0.1 to 30.0 m, and replicated in two years. In a given year, most spatial variation in relative fitness (genotype-environment [G x E] interactions for fitness) occurred over distances of only 50 cm. Year effects were as large or larger than the spatial variation in fitness; in particular there was a large, three-way, genotype-year-environment interaction at the smallest spatial scale. The genetic correlation of fitness across years at a given location was near zero, 0.03. Thus, the relative fitness of genotypes is spatially unpredictable and a map of the selective environment has constantly shifting locations of peaks and valleys. Including measurements of soil nutrients as covariates in the analysis removed most of the spatial G x E interaction. Vegetation and microtopography had no effect on the G x E terms, suggesting that differential response to soil nutrients is the cause of spatial variation in fitness. However, the slope of response to NH4 and P04 was negative; therefore the soil nutrients are probably just indicators of other, unknown, environmental factors. We explored via simulation the evolutionary consequences of spatial and temporal variation in fitness and showed that, for this system, the spatial scale of variation was too fine grained (by a factor of 3 to 5) to be a powerful force maintaining genetic variation in the population. The inclusion of both spatial and temporal variation in fitness actually reduced the coexistence of genotypes compared to pure spatial models. Thus the presence of spatial or temporal variation in selection does not guarantee that it is an effective evolutionary force maintaining diversity. Instead the pattern of selection favors generalist genotypes.

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