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Leaf ecophysiological traits related to carbon gain and resource use are expected to be under strong selection in desert annuals. We used comparative and phenotypic selection approaches to investigate the importance of leaf ecophysiological traits for Helianthus anomalus, a diploid annual sunflower species of hybrid origin that is endemic to active desert dunes. Comparisons were made within and among five genotypic classes: H. anomalus, its ancestral parent species (H. annuus and H. petiolaris), and two backcrossed populations of the parental species (designated BC2ann and BC2pet) representing putative ancestors of H. anomalus. Seedlings were transplanted into H. anomalus habitat at Little Sahara Dunes, Utah, and...