Fitness Effects of Floral Plasticity and Thermoregulation in a Thermally Changing Environment

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth P. Lacey, Professor (Creator)
Scott J. Richter, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: To better understand the evolution of phenotypic plasticity and thermoregulation and their potential value for ectotherms in the face of global warming, we conducted field experiments to measure their effects on fitness and their association with reproductive phenology in Plantago lanceolata in a thermally variable environment. We measured the reproductive timing and success of genotypes varying in thermoregulation, as mediated by floral-reflectance plasticity. Results were consistent with the hypothesis that thermoregulation is more adaptive when thermally variable reproductive seasons are shorter and cooler. Strong thermoregulation/plasticity increased reproductive success during the cool portion of the reproductive season but not during the warm portion. Directional selection that favored strongly thermoregulating genotypes early in the season shifted to stabilizing selection that favored genotypes with weaker thermoregulation later in the season. Thermoregulation and reproductive phenology were negatively correlated. Although reproductive onset and duration were similar between genotypes, strong thermoregulators produced more and larger spikes (clutches) early; weak thermoregulators produced more spikes late. Results suggest that with atmospheric warming, the benefit of raising body temperature via thermoregulation when it is cool should decline in extant populations. The negative correlation between thermoregulation and phenology should accelerate the evolutionary shift toward thermoconformity, that is, reduced plasticity.

Additional Information

The American Naturalist, 180(3), 342-353
Language: English
Date: 2012
fitness, thermoregulation, phenotypic plasticity, phenology, global warming, reproduction, Plantago lanceolata, phenotypicselection, analysis

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