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Neighbours matter: natural selection on plant size depends on the identity and diversity of the surrounding community
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Plant Ecology and Evolution.
2014 (English)In: Evolutionary Ecology, ISSN 0269-7653, E-ISSN 1573-8477, Vol. 28, no 6, 1139-1153 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Plant diversity can affect ecological processes such as competition and herbivory, and these ecological processes can act as drivers of evolutionary change. However, surprisingly little is known about how ecological variation in plant diversity can alter selective regimes on members of the community. Here, we examine how plant diversity at two different scales (genotypic and species diversity) impacts natural selection on a focal plant species, the common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis). Because competition is frequently relaxed in both genotypically and species rich plant communities, we hypothesized that increasing diversity would weaken selection on competitive ability. Changes in plant diversity can also affect associated arthropod communities. Therefore, we hypothesized that diversity would alter selection on plant traits mediating these interactions, such as herbivory related traits. We grew 24 focal O. biennis genotypes within four different neighbourhoods: genotypic monocultures or polycultures of O. biennis, and species monocultures or polycultures of old-field species that commonly co-occur with O. biennis. We then measured genotypic selection on nine plant traits known to be ecologically important for competition and herbivory. Focal O. biennis plants were smaller, flowered for shorter periods of time, had lower fitness, and experienced greater attack from specialist predispersal seed predators when grown with conspecifics versus heterospecifics. While neither conspecific nor heterospecific diversity altered trait means, both types of diversity altered the strength of selection on focal O. biennis plants. Specifically, selection on plant biomass was stronger in conspecific monocultures versus polycultures, but weaker in heterospecific monocultures versus polycultures. We found no evidence of selection on plant traits that mediate insect interactions, despite differences in arthropod communities on plants surrounded by conspecifics versus heterospecifics. Our data demonstrate that plant genotypic and species diversity can act as agents of natural selection, potentially driving evolutionary changes in plant communities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 28, no 6, 1139-1153 p.
Keyword [en]
Biodiversity, Biomass, Community driven selection, Genotypic selection, Natural selection, Oenothera biennis
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-238421DOI: 10.1007/s10682-014-9727-6ISI: 000344075200011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-238421DiVA: diva2:772945
Available from: 2014-12-17 Created: 2014-12-12 Last updated: 2014-12-17Bibliographically approved

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Parachnowitsch, Amy L.
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Plant Ecology and Evolution
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