Local climate and cultivation, but not ploidy, predict functional trait variation in Bouteloua gracilis (Poaceae)

Plant Ecology
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Abstract

Efforts to improve the diversity of seed 18 resources for important restoration species has become a high priority for land managers in many parts of the world. Relationships between functional trait values and the environment from which seed sources are collected can provide important insights into patterns of local adaptation and guidelines for seed transfer. However, little is known about which functional traits exhibit genetic differentiation across populations of restoration species and thus may contribute to local adaptation. Here, we report the results of a common garden experiment aimed at assessing genetic (including ploidy level) and environmental regulation of several functional traits among populations of Bouteloua gracilis, a dominant C4 grass and the most highly utilized restoration species across much of the Colorado Plateau. We found that leaf size and specific leaf area (SLA) varied significantly among populations, and were strongly correlated with the source population environment from which seeds were collected. However, variation in ploidy level had no significant effect on functional traits. Leaves of plants grown from commercial seed releases were significantly larger and had lower SLA than those from natural populations, a result that is concordant with the overall relation between climate and these two functional traits. We suggest that the patterns of functional trait variation shown here may extend to other grass species in the western USA, and may serve as useful proxies for more extensive genecology research. Furthermore, we argue that care should be taken to develop commercial seed lines with functional trait values that match those of natural populations occupying climates similar to target restoration sites.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Local climate and cultivation, but not ploidy, predict functional trait variation in Bouteloua gracilis (Poaceae)
Series title Plant Ecology
DOI 10.1007/s11258-015-0510-8
Volume 216
Issue 10
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 9 p.
First page 1341
Last page 1349
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N