Evol Ecol Res 7: 531-548 (2005)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Interacting effects of microsite quality, plasticity and dispersal distance from the parental site on fitness in a natural population of Impatiens capensis

Eric J. von Wettberg,* Heidrun Huber‡ and Johanna Schmitt

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA

Address all correspondence to Eric von Wettberg, Box G-W, Ecology and Evolution, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.
e-mail: eric_von_wettberg@brown.edu


Hypothesis: Induced plastic responses, environmental heterogeneity and local adaptation may have interacting and counteracting effects on the performance of organisms.

Organism: The North American herbaceous annual Impatiens capensis.

Site of experiment: This experiment was performed in a forest understory site in Bristol, RI, USA, where previous experiments have shown declines in fitness with transplanting up to 12 m from parental sites.

Methods: Eight replicated genotypes were pre-treated in a glasshouse to induce or suppress shade avoidance responses and then transplanted into 50 randomly chosen microsites within 50 m of the site from which their parents were originally collected.

Results: Overall plant fitness was significantly autocorrelated at distances less than 4 m, the primary dispersal distance of Impatiens seeds and the distance with greatest environmental spatial autocorrelation. The fitness of transplants was affected by site quality but not by distance from the site of original collection. In addition, genotypes were more sensitive to environmental factors when induced to elongate in response to neighbour shading. Finally, the genotypes most responsive to increasing site quality were the most fit.

Keywords: environmental quality, phenotypic plasticity, shade avoidance, spatial autocorrelation.

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