Journal Article

Cyclone Tolerance in New World Arecaceae: Biogeographic Variation and Abiotic Natural Selection

M. Patrick Griffith, Larry R. Noblick, John L. Dowe, Chad E. Husby and Michael A. Calonje

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 4, pages 591-598
Published in print October 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcn132
Cyclone Tolerance in New World Arecaceae: Biogeographic Variation and Abiotic Natural Selection

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

Consistent abiotic factors can affect directional selection; cyclones are abiotic phenomena with near-discrete geographic limits. The current study investigates selective pressure of cyclones on plants at the species level, testing for possible natural selection.

Methods

New World Arecaceae (palms) are used as a model system, as plants with monopodial, unbranched arborescent form are most directly affected by the selective pressure of wind load. Living specimens of known provenance grown at a common site were affected by the same cyclone. Data on percentage mortality were compiled and analysed in biogeographic and phylogenetic contexts.

Key Results

Palms of cyclone-prone provenance exhibited a much lower (one order of magnitude) range in cyclone tolerance, and significantly lower (P < 0·001) mean percentage mortality than collections from cyclone-free areas. Palms of cyclone-free provenance had much greater variation in tolerance, and significantly greater mean percentage mortality. A test for serial independence recovered no significant phylogenetic autocorrelation of percentage mortality.

Conclusions

Variation in cyclone tolerance in New World Arecaceae correlates with biogeography, and is not confounded with phylogeny. These results suggest natural selection of cyclone tolerance in cyclone-prone areas.

Keywords: Abiotic selection; Arecaceae; biogeography; cyclone; hurricane; phylogenetic independence

Journal Article.  4609 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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