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Phenotypic variation in nurse traits and community feedbacks define an alpine community.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Ecology letters, Volume 14, Issue 5, p.433 - 43 (2011)





arizona, Ecosystem, Genotype, Geum, Models, Biological, Phenotype, Plant Leaves, Plant Roots, Plant Stems, Population Dynamics, Selection, Genetic


<p>Much is known about facilitation, but virtually nothing about the underlying genetic and evolutionary consequences of this important interaction. We assessed the potential of phenotypic differences in facilitative effects of a foundation species to determine the composition of an Alpine community in Arizona. Two phenotypes of Geum rossii occur along a gradient of disturbance, with 'tight' competitive cushions in stable conditions and 'loose' facilitative cushions in disturbed conditions. A common-garden study suggested that field-based traits may have a genetic basis. Field experiments showed that the reproductive fitness of G. rossii cushions decreased with increasing facilitation. Finally, using a dual-lattice model we showed that including the cost and benefit of facilitation may contribute to the co-occurrence of genotypes with contrasting facilitative effects. Our results indicate that changes in community composition due to phenotypic differences in facilitative effects of a foundation species may in turn affect selective pressures on the foundation species.</p>

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