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A central question of invasion biology is how an exotic species invades new habitats following its initial establishment. Three hypotheses to explain this expansion are: (1) the existence of ‘general purpose’ genotypes, (2) the in situ evolution of novel genotypes, and (3) the dispersal of existing specialized genotypes into habitats for which they are pre-adapted. Bromus tectorum is a selfing exotic winter annual grass that has achieved widespread dominance in semiarid western North America and that is actively invading salt desert habitats. We examined mechanisms driving this invasion in three complementary studies. In reciprocal seeding experiments with ten populations from saline playa, salt desert shrubland,...
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Annual migrations of birds profoundly influence terrestrial communities. However, few empirical studies examine why birds migrate, in part due to the difficulty of testing causal hypotheses in long-distance migration systems. Short-distance altitudinal migrations provide relatively tractable systems in which to test explanations for migration. Many past studies explain tropical altitudinal migration as a response to spatial and temporal variation in fruit availability. Yet this hypothesis fails to explain why some coexisting, closely-related frugivorous birds remain resident year-round. We take a mechanistic approach by proposing and evaluating two hypotheses (one based on competitive exclusion and the other based...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Evolutionary Ecology
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Predators strongly influence species assemblages and shape morphological defenses of prey. Interestingly, adaptations that constitute effective defenses against one type of predator may render the prey susceptible to other types of predators. Hence, prey may evolve different strategies to escape predation, which may facilitate adaptive radiation of prey organisms. Larvae of different species in the dragonfly genus Leucorrhinia have various morphological defenses. We studied the distribution of these larvae in relation to the presence of predatory fish. In addition, we examined the variation in morphological defenses within species with respect to the occurrence of fish. We found that well-defended species, those...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Evolutionary Ecology
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A non-manipulative method for deriving empirical expressions of population growth parameters from simple field data is presented. The derived expressions can be used to assess the intensity and form of density dependence and interspecies interactions, and have potential for parameterizing more mechanistic models of population dynamics and for use in applied ecology, e.g. land management or environmental risk assessment. The method is based on an assertion of invariant expected fitness across occupied microhabitats. Hence, its success depends upon the degree to which that assertion holds. The assertion, as used here, is broadly applicable. Thus, the method can be expected to yield reliable results even in nonequilibrium...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Evolutionary Ecology
Related plants often produce seeds that are dispersed in very different ways, raising questions of how and why plants undergo adaptive shifts in key aspects of their reproductive ecology. Here we analyze the evolution of seed dispersal syndromes in an ancient group of plants. Ephedra (Gymnospermae; Gnetales; Ephedraceae) is a genus containing &50 species in semiarid ecosystems worldwide and with three distinct types of cones. We collected mature cones and seeds of ten species of Ephedra in southwestern United States and measured nine morphological traits for each species. Principal component analysis and other data characterized three types of Ephedra cones and seeds. Species with dry, winged cone bracts are dispersed...
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Survival is a key component of fitness. Species that occupy discrete breeding colonies with different characteristics are often exposed to varying costs and benefits associated with group size or environmental conditions, and survival is an integrative net measure of these effects. We investigated the extent to which survival probability of adult (≥1-year old) cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) occupying different colonies resembled that of their parental cohort and thus whether the natal colony had long-term effects on individuals. Individuals were cross-fostered between colonies soon after hatching and their presence as breeders monitored at colonies in the western Nebraska study area for the subsequent...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Evolutionary Ecology
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Fishes often exhibit phenotypic divergence across gradients of abiotic and biotic selective pressures. In streams, many of the known selective pressures driving phenotypic differentiation are largely influenced by hydrologic regimes. Because flow regimes drive so many attributes of lotic systems, we hypothesized fish exhibit phenotypic divergence among streams with different flow regimes. We used a comparative field study to investigate the morphological divergence of Campostoma anomalom (central stonerollers) among streams characterized by highly variable, intermittent flow regimes and streams characterized by relatively stable, groundwater flow regimes. We also conducted a mesocosm experiment to compare the plastic...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Evolutionary Ecology
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Developmental instability was assessed in two geographical races of Teucrium lusitanicum using morphometric measures of vegetative and reproductive structures. T. lusitanicum is a gynodioecious species. Male sterile (female) individuals showed greater developmental instability at all sites. Plants located inland had higher developmental instability of vegetative characters and lower developmental instability of reproductive characters than coastal plants. These results support the contentions that (1) developmental instability is affected more by the disruption of co-adapted gene complexes than by lower heterozygosity, and (2) different habitat characteristics result in the differential response of vegetative and...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Evolutionary Ecology