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Open Access Ten Cases of Divergence in the Seedling Ecology of Dudleya (Crassulaceae)

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Dudleya is a genus of succulents consisting of 49 terminal taxa. Many are restricted to narrow geographic ranges with closely related forms living in differing climates. Previously, we found an intriguing set of correlations among nine more or less sympatric Dudleya: species with a smaller mature body size had a lower tolerance for an arid inland climate compared to larger bodied species. Thus, we were motivated to test for rules caused by convergent evolution. We sampled 20 populations from locations across much of the range of the genus. The 20 populations were placed into 10 pairs of close relatives. For each pair, one form was judged to be more mesophilic and the other to be more xerophilic, based on climate-of-origin. We measured germination rate, survival through the summer drought in a coastal garden, and survival through the summer in an inland garden. We hypothesized (among other things) that the xerophilic taxa would have larger mature body sizes and greater rates of survival than mesophilic relatives; however, this and other expected patterns were not repeated across the 10 pairs. Members of pairs have diverged both in various morphological traits and in seedling ecology, but evolution has seemingly not converged on rules. For nearly all taxa, habitat dependence was clear, i.e. plants survived significantly better through the summer at the coastal garden than at the inland garden. Quite possibly the correlations we previously found were caused by divergence between particular lineages coupled with phylogenetic conservatism. Considering the 10 pairs, Dudleya divergences appear to each evolve individualistically.
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Keywords: Comparative method; regeneration niches; systematics rules

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 28, 2018

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