Geographic range size is predicted by plant mating system

Dena Grossenbacher, Ryan Briscoe Runquist, Emma E. Goldberg, Yaniv Brandvain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Species' geographic ranges vary enormously, and even closest relatives may differ in range size by several orders of magnitude. With data from hundreds of species spanning 20 genera in 15 families, we show that plant species that autonomously reproduce via self-pollination consistently have larger geographic ranges than their close relatives that generally require two parents for reproduction. Further analyses strongly implicate autonomous self-fertilisation in causing this relationship, as it is not driven by traits such as polyploidy or annual life history whose evolution is sometimes correlated with selfing. Furthermore, we find that selfers occur at higher maximum latitudes and that disparity in range size between selfers and outcrossers increases with time since their evolutionary divergence. Together, these results show that autonomous reproduction-a critical biological trait that eliminates mate limitation and thus potentially increases the probability of establishment-increases range size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-713
Number of pages8
JournalEcology letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS.


  • Baker's law
  • Outcrossing
  • Phylogeny
  • Range size
  • Selfing


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