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Differentiation in phenotypic plasticity among populations of Arabis serrata Fr. & Sav. (Brassicaceae)

Oyama, K.
Biological journal of the Linnean Society 1994 v.51 no.4 pp. 417-432
life cycle (organisms), Arabis, plant morphology, nutrient availability, edaphic factors, habitats, phenotype, population, Japan
Studies on divergence of phenotypic plasticity in closely related species have suggested that character means and plasticity of these characters may evolve independently. Similar patterns of divergence between populations within a species have been reported although few plant species have been studied. Thus, in this paper, the patterns of differentiation between character means and phenotypic plasticity among eight populations of Arabis serrata are documented. Mean response and magnitude and pattern of phenotypic plasticity were measured and compared in plants growing under an environmental gradient of nutrients. Differences in means and coefficients of variation (CV as indicators of plasticity) among populations were compared using the Canberra metric and generating unrooted Wagner trees. Populations showed significant differences in character means in nine morphological traits. Magnitude and patterns of phenotypic plasticity showed a complex pattern of differentiation for each trait and population. Biomass traits were more plastic, in general, than characters associated with linear size. Comparisons between pairs of populations for nine morphological traits showed that in 28.6% of 252 possible cases, populations differed in means, magnitude and patterns of phenotypic plasticity. In almost 90% of the cases, populations differed in magnitude and/or pattern of plasticity. Considering all characters together, populations from similar habitats and with common life history features tended to respond in similar ways. The patterns of divergence, however, suggest that character means and character plasticities among populations are able to evolve independently.