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Abstract Detail


Williams, Tanisha [1], Holsinger, Kent [1], Schlichting, Carl [2].

Using common gardens to understand local adaptation and phenotypic plasticity of Pelargonium species within an environmental gradient in South Africa.

Knowing how phenotypic differences are influenced by plasticity and genetic differences are important for understanding how plants respond to environmental changes. Common garden studies are often used to control for environmental variation and identify the contribution of genetic differences to trait variation. From 2016-2017, two common garden experiments were carried out in the Western Cape (winter rainfall) and Eastern Cape (summer rainfall) of South Africa. The genus Pelargonium was used as a model system because of its known geographic, morphological, and genetic diversity. The aims of this study were: (i) to understand how Pelargonium species would respond to novel environmental conditions they are projected to face in the future, (ii) to determine if species perform better in environments typical of where they occur, and (iii) to identify growth and leaf traits that were related to performance across the two rainfall regimes. We found significant differences among traits and in growth rates among species across the two gardens. Some traits (e.g., height) showed strong phylogenetic and environmental associations, while other traits (e.g., leaf mass per area (LMA)) had less consistent associations. Some trait differences were consistent with local adaptation (e.g., length-width ratio). Leaf thickness and stem diameter were strongly associated with the probability of survival at the winter rainfall site. While length-width ratio and leaf thickness were strongly associated with the probability of survival at the summer rainfall site. Plasticity may have a significant role in aiding species persistence throughout environmentally and ecologically diverse habitats in South Africa.

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1 - University Of Connecticut, Department Of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, 75 N. Eagleville Road, U-3043, Storrs, CT, 06269, United States
2 - Department Of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, 75 N. Eagleville Road, Unit 43, Storrs, CT, 06269, United States

common garden
phenotypic plasticity
Climate change
adaptive divergence
South Africa.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 31, Ecology Section - Population Biology
Location: 106/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 4:45 PM
Number: 31013
Abstract ID:912
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Graduate Student Paper

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