The role of phenotypic plasticity in the colonization of novel environments

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Freddy O. Herrera (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Elizabeth Lacey

Abstract: Biological invasions have been argued to be facilitated by phenotypic plasticity. Although experiments have shown plasticity can be adaptive, our current understanding is limited to comparative studies that measure plasticity between invasive and non-invasive species or populations. Because plasticity in a trait is a property of a genotype, a more effective test would measure the fitness effects of genotypes that vary in plasticity. I used this approach to conduct an experiment using native European Plantago lanceolata genotypes that expressed plasticity in multiple reproductive traits. I transplanted these genotypes into two novel environments that differ in thermal regime during the reproductive season and measured the fitness effects of plasticity and source latitude. Results were consistent with the hypothesis that plasticity improves reproductive success in novel environments. However, the fitness effects of plasticity varied by trait, and environment. Phenotypic-selection analyses showed evidence of stabilizing selection for onset plasticity and directional selection favoring plasticity in stalk length and spike length. Results also provided evidence that source latitude and plasticity affect reproductive success independently of each other and that the effects differ between reproductive years. Phenotypic-selection analyses showed evidence that as source latitude increased, reproductive success increased in the short and cool environment but only in 2012. My results suggest that the role of plasticity should be examined in multiple vegetative and reproductive traits.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Novel environments, Phenotypic plasticity, Plantago lanceolata
Phenotypic plasticity
Plantago $x Genetics

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