Recent investigations of evolution in heterogeneous environments have begun to accommodate genetic and environmental complexity typical of natural populations. Theoretical studies demonstrate that evolution of polygenic characters depends heavily on the genetic interdependence of the expression of traits in the different environments in which selection occurs, but information concerning this issue is scarce. We conducted a field experiment to assess the genetic variability of the annual plant Nemophila menziesii in five biotic regimes differing in plant density and composition. Significant, though modest, additive genetic variance in plant size was expressed in particular treatments. Evidence of additive genetic tradeoffs between interspecific and intraspecific competitive performance was found, but this result was not consistent throughout the experiment. Two aspects of experimental design may tend to obscure genetically based tradeoffs across environments in many previously published experiments: (1) inability to isolate additive genetic from other sources of variation and (2) use of novel (e.g., laboratory) environments.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - Jan 1 1995|