Extreme environments select for reproductive assurance: Evidence from evening primroses (<i>Oenothera</i>)

TitleExtreme environments select for reproductive assurance: Evidence from evening primroses (Oenothera)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsEvans MEK, Hearn DJ, Theiss KE, Cranston KA, Holsinger KE, Donoghue MJ
JournalNew Phytologist
Date Published2011 Jul

Competing evolutionary forces shape plant breeding systems (e.g. inbreeding depression, reproductive assurance). Which of these forces prevails in a given population or species is predicted to depend upon such factors as life history, ecological conditions, and geographical context. Here, we examined two such predictions: that self-compatibility should be associated with the annual life history or extreme climatic conditions. We analyzed data from a clade of plants remarkable for variation in breeding system, life history and climatic conditions (Oenothera, sections Anogra and Kleinia, Onagraceae). We used a phylogenetic comparative approach and Bayesian or hybrid Bayesian tests to account for phylogenetic uncertainty. Geographic information system (GIS)-based climate data and ecological niche modeling allowed us to quantify climatic conditions. Breeding system and reproductive life span are not correlated in Anogra and Kleinia. Instead, self-compatibility is associated with the extremes of temperature in the coldest part of the year and precipitation in the driest part of the year. In the 60 yr since this pattern was anticipated, this is the first demonstration of a relationship between the evolution of self-compatibility and climatic extremes. We discuss possible explanations for this pattern and possible implications with respect to anthropogenic climate change.