Life history trait differentiation and local adaptation in invasive populations of Ambrosia artemisiifolia in China
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- Li, XM., She, DY., Zhang, DY. et al. Oecologia (2015) 177: 669. doi:10.1007/s00442-014-3127-z
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Local adaptation has been suggested to play an important role in range expansion, particularly among invasive species. However, the extent to which local adaptation affects the success of an invasive species and the factors that contribute to local adaptation are still unclear. This study aimed to investigate a case of population divergence that may have contributed to the local adaptation of invasive populations of Ambrosia artemisiifolia in China. Common garden experiments in seven populations indicated clinal variations along latitudinal gradients, with plants from higher latitudes exhibiting earlier flowering and smaller sizes at flowering. In reciprocal transplant experiments, plants of a northern Beijing origin produced more seeds at their home site than plants of a southern Wuhan origin, and the Wuhan-origin plants had grown taller at flowering than the Beijing-origin plants in Wuhan, which is believed to facilitate pollen dispersal. These results suggest that plants of Beijing origin may be locally adapted through female fitness and plants from Wuhan possibly locally adapted through male fitness. Selection and path analysis suggested that the phenological and growth traits of both populations have been influenced by natural selection and that flowering time has played an important role through its direct and indirect effects on the relative fitness of each individual. This study evidences the life history trait differentiation and local adaptation during range expansion of invasive A. artemisiifolia in China.