Journal Article

Variation in style morph frequencies in tristylous <i>Lythrum salicaria</i> in the Iberian Peninsula: the role of geographical and demographic factors

Joana Costa, Sílvia Castro, João Loureiro and Spencer C. H. Barrett

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 117, issue 2, pages 331-340
Published in print February 2016 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2015 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcv173
Variation in style morph frequencies in tristylous Lythrum salicaria in the Iberian Peninsula: the role of geographical and demographic factors

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

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Background and Aims The balance between stochastic forces and negative frequency-dependent selection largely determines style morph frequencies in heterostylous populations. Investigation of morph frequencies at geographical range limits can provide insights into the forces maintaining the floral polymorphism, and the factors causing biased morph ratios. Here, we investigate style morph frequencies in populations at the south-western European range limit of tristylous Lythrum salicaria, to explore the role of demographic and geographical factors influencing morph ratios in its native range.

Methods We measured morph composition and evenness, and the size of 96 populations, along a north to south latitudinal transect from Galicia to Andalucia, Iberian Peninsula, traversing a steep climatic gradient. To examine the potential influence of morph-specific fitness components on morph ratios, we examined reproductive traits in 19 populations.

Key Results Most populations of L. salicaria were trimorphic (94·79 %), the majority exhibiting 1 : 1 : 1 morph ratios (68·75 %). Populations with biased morph ratios had a deficiency of the short-styled morph. Population size and morph evenness were positively associated with latitude, with smaller populations and those with less even morph ratios occurring towards the south. Greater variance in morph evenness was evident at the southern range margin. There were no consistent differences in components of reproductive fitness among style morphs, but southern populations produced less fruit and seed than more northerly populations.

Conclusions Our results demonstrate the influence of finite population size on morph frequencies in L. salicaria. However, they also illustrate the resilience of Iberian populations to the factors causing deviations from isoplethy and morph loss, especially at the southern range limit where populations are smaller. The maintenance of tristyly in small populations of L. salicaria may be aided by the genetic connectivity of populations in agricultural landscapes resulting from gene flow through pollen and seed dispersal.

Keywords: Frequency-dependent selection; genetic drift; Iberian Peninsula; isoplethy; Lythrum salicaria; population size; range limits; stochastic forces; tristyly

Journal Article.  6797 words.  Illustrated.

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

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