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Plant phenology in seasonal environments
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences. Bolin Centre for Climate Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5755-849X
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Phenology, or the seasonal timing life-history events such as emergence, reproduction and senescence will determine the outcome of interactions between plants and both abiotic and biotic aspects of the environment. Such timing is therefore of utmost importance for plants in seasonal environments. In this thesis, I first investigated the factors determining the start, end and length of the growing season for a perennial herb. Secondly, I estimated phenotypic selection on flowering time and investigated to which extent it corresponded to genotypic selection in a natural field setting. Thirdly, I estimated population differentiation in flowering time in a common garden and in the field. Lastly, I experimentally manipulated the synchrony of a perennial herb and its main herbivore to investigate the effects of herbivore phenological preference and plant-herbivore synchrony on the direction of selection on flowering time.

I found that flowering individuals emerged earlier in spring than non-flowering individuals and that large individuals senesced later in autumn, suggesting that the length of the growing season is linked to individual condition and resource demands. Phenotypic selection favoured early-flowering individuals, but there was no genotypic selection. I found evidence for genetic population differentiation in flowering time in a common garden but not in the field. This suggests that, although flowering time has a genetic component, the observed variation in flowering time was mainly plastic under natural field conditions. Lastly, I show that constant herbivore preferences of plant phenology, in combination with environmentally driven variation in relative synchrony of the plant and the herbivore, leads to among-year variation in natural selection on flowering time. With this thesis, I contribute to identifying the factors affecting plant phenology as well as of the mechanisms shaping selection on flowering time in perennial plants. Such knowledge is essential for predicting species responses to climate change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University , 2019.
Keywords [en]
Autumn phenology, Cardamine pratensis, evolutionary ecology, heritability, herbivore preference, fitness components, flowering time, growing season length, life-history, Lathyrus vernus, natural selection, population differentiation, phenology, spring phenology
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170360ISBN: 978-91-7797-676-9 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7797-677-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-170360DiVA, id: diva2:1332023
Public defence
2019-09-13, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: Accepted. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2019-08-20 Created: 2019-06-27 Last updated: 2019-09-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Flowering status and individual condition affects phenology in a perennial herb
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Flowering status and individual condition affects phenology in a perennial herb
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170278 (URN)
Available from: 2019-06-25 Created: 2019-06-25 Last updated: 2019-06-27Bibliographically approved
2. Phenotypic but not genotypic selection for earlier flowering in a perennial herb
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Phenotypic but not genotypic selection for earlier flowering in a perennial herb
2019 (English)In: Journal of Ecology, ISSN 0022-0477, E-ISSN 1365-2745Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

1. Timing of reproduction affects the outcome of interactions between plants and their pollinators, grazers and seed predators, as well as with their local abiotic environment. In seasonal environments, phenotypic selection has often been shown to favour early flowering. Yet, we still know little about the agents driving selection in natural populations and whether observed phenotypic selection corresponds to genotypic selection – a prerequisite for evolutionary change.

2. In this study, we experimentally assessed phenotypic and genotypic selection for flowering time in a natural population of the perennial herb Lathyrus vernus. We transplanted sibling individuals, obtained through controlled crosses, to their source population and found net phenotypic selection for earlier flowering in the field.

3. Despite a higher susceptibility to roe deer grazing, early‐flowering plants had higher fruit set and more seeds per fruit than late‐flowering plants. We found no support for genotypic selection on flowering time, and heritability for first flowering day was very low.

4. Synthesis: Our results suggest that commonly observed patterns of higher fitness in early‐flowering plants do not always correspond to selection on genotypic values and are thus not necessarily expected to result in evolutionary change even if the relationship between flowering time and fitness is causal. This finding should be important to understand how species phenology might respond to changing environmental conditions.

Keywords
Evolutionary ecology, natural selection, phenology, heritability, herbivory, fitness components, Lathyrus vernus
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170358 (URN)10.1111/1365-2745.13240 (DOI)000479974800001 ()
Available from: 2019-06-27 Created: 2019-06-27 Last updated: 2019-09-16
3. Population differentiation of flowering time in Lathyrus vernus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Population differentiation of flowering time in Lathyrus vernus
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-169965 (URN)
Available from: 2019-06-25 Created: 2019-06-25 Last updated: 2019-06-27Bibliographically approved
4. Plant-herbivore synchrony and selection on plant flowering phenology
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Plant-herbivore synchrony and selection on plant flowering phenology
Show others...
2017 (English)In: Ecology, ISSN 0012-9658, E-ISSN 1939-9170, Vol. 98, no 3, p. 703-711Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Temporal variation in natural selection has profound effects on the evolutionary trajectories of populations. One potential source of variation in selection is that differences in thermal reaction norms and temperature influence the relative phenology of interacting species. We manipulated the phenology of the butterfly herbivore Anthocharis cardamines relative to genetically identical populations of its host plant, Cardamine pratensis, and examined the effects on butterfly preferences and selection acting on the host plant. We found that butterflies preferred plants at an intermediate flowering stage, regardless of the timing of butterfly flight relative to flowering onset of the population. Consequently, the probability that plant genotypes differing in timing of flowering should experience a butterfly attack depended strongly on relative phenology. These results suggest that differences in spring temperature influence the direction of herbivore-mediated selection on flowering phenology, and that climatic conditions can influence natural selection also when phenotypic preferences remain constant.

Keywords
Anthocharis cardamines, Cardamine pratensis, herbivore preference, natural selection, reaction norm, trophic interaction
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Plant Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142702 (URN)10.1002/ecy.1676 (DOI)000395824000011 ()27935643 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2017-05-05 Created: 2017-05-05 Last updated: 2019-06-27Bibliographically approved

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