Variation in life-history traits and their plasticities to elevational transplantation among seed families suggests potential for adaptative evolution of 15 tropical plant species to climate change

Ensslin, Andreas; Fischer, Markus (2015). Variation in life-history traits and their plasticities to elevational transplantation among seed families suggests potential for adaptative evolution of 15 tropical plant species to climate change. American journal of botany, 102(8), pp. 1371-1379. Botanical Society of America 10.3732/ajb.1400518

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• Premise of the study: Because not all plant species will be able to move in response to global warming, adaptive evolution matters largely for plant persistence. As prerequisites for adaptive evolution, genetic variation in and selection on phenotypic traits are needed, but these aspects have not been studied in tropical species. We studied how plants respond to transplantation to different elevations on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, and whether there is quantitative genetic (among-seed family) variation in and selection on life-history traits and their phenotypic plasticity to the different environments. • Methods: We reciprocally transplanted seed families of 15 common tropical, herbaceous species of the montane and savanna vegetation zone at Mt. Kilimanjaro to a watered experimental garden in the montane (1450 m) and in the savanna (880 m) zone at the mountain’s slope and measured performance, reproductive, and phenological traits. • Results: Plants generally performed worse in the savanna garden, indicating that the savanna climate was more stressful and thus that plants may suffer from future climate warming. We found significant quantitative genetic variation in all measured performance and reproductive traits in both gardens and for several measures of phenotypic plasticity in response to elevational transplantation. Moreover, we found positive selection on traits at low and intermediate trait values levelling to neutral or negative selection at high values. • Conclusions: We conclude that common plants at Mt. Kilimanjaro express quantitative genetic variation in fitness-relevant traits and in their plasticities, suggesting potential to adapt evolutionarily to future climate warming and increased temperature variability.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Ensslin, Andreas and Fischer, Markus

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0002-9122

Publisher:

Botanical Society of America

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

26 Aug 2015 09:45

Last Modified:

06 Jul 2017 08:33

Publisher DOI:

10.3732/ajb.1400518

PubMed ID:

26290559

Uncontrolled Keywords:

adaptive plasticity; climate change; evolutionary potential; tropical Africa; selection gradient; transplantation experiment

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/71170

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