The triple helix of Plantago lanceolata: genetics and the environment interact to determine population dynamics.

Abstract

The theory of evolution via natural selection predicts that the genetic composition of wild populations changes over time in response to the environment. Different genotypes should exhibit different demographic patterns, but genetic variation in demography is often impossible to separate from environmental variation. Here, we asked if genetic variation is important in determining demographic patterns. We answer this question using a long-term field experiment combined with general linear modeling of deterministic population growth rates (lambda), deterministic life table response experiment (LTRE) analysis, and stochastic simulation of demography by paternal lineage in a short-lived perennial plant, Plantago lanceolata, in which we replicated genotypes across four cohorts using a standard breeding design. General linear modeling showed that growth rate varied significantly with year, spatial block, and sire. In LTRE analysis of all cohorts, the strongest influences on growth rate were from year x spatial block, and cohort x year x spatial block interactions. In analysis of genetics vs. temporal environmental variation, the strongest impacts on growth rate were from year and year x sire. Finally, stochastic simulation suggested different genetic composition among cohorts after 100 years, and different population growth rates when genetic differences were accounted for than when they were not. We argue that genetic variation, genotype x environment interactions, natural selection, and cohort effects should be better integrated into population ecological studies, as these processes should result in deviations from projected deterministic and stochastic population parameters.

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Cite this paper

@article{Shefferson2012TheTH, title={The triple helix of Plantago lanceolata: genetics and the environment interact to determine population dynamics.}, author={Richard P Shefferson and Deborah Ann Roach}, journal={Ecology}, year={2012}, volume={93 4}, pages={793-802} }