Among-strain consistency in the pace and shape of senescence in duckweed

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Authors Patrick M. Barks, Zach W. Dempsey, Theresa M. Burg, Robert A. Laird
Journal/Conference Name Journal of Ecology
Paper Category , ,
Paper Abstract Comparative studies have demonstrated extensive variation in age trajectories of mortality and fecundity, both within and among species, with many taxa exhibiting a general pattern of age-related demographic decline referred to as senescence. Whereas a considerable body of theory is devoted to explaining the origin and persistence of senescence, the evolutionary forces underlying variation in demographic trajectories more generally remain poorly understood. Studying variation in demographic trajectories is complicated by the fact that different species (or even different populations of a given species) may live and reproduce on different time-scales, which, for comparative purposes, can make it challenging to disentangle patterns of age-related demographic change (the shape of demographic age trajectories) from the time-scale on which those changes happen (the pace of demographic age trajectories). Here, we examine variation in the pace and shape of demographic trajectories among strains of the aquatic plant Lemna turionifera Landolt from 24 sites across Alberta, Canada. Our main objectives were to describe the shape of demographic trajectories in L. turionifera, and test for among-strain variation in pace and shape. We also tested whether potential variation in pace and shape is (1) constrained by trade-offs with other life-history traits, and (2) consistent with local adaptation to environmental characteristics at the sites of strain origin. The strains we examined were overwhelmingly subject to age-related increases in mortality and declines in fecundity, with increases in mortality tending to decelerate and plateau at advanced ages. Despite substantial among-strain variation in cumulative fecundity and plant size, measures of pace and shape did not in themselves vary significantly among strains. Both within and among strains, we observed a negative relationship between plant size and the shape of fecundity trajectories, but we found no other evidence for life-history trade-offs involving pace or shape, nor for local adaptation. Synthesis. Angiosperms display remarkable demographic variation. Our results suggest that the pace and shape of demographic trajectories are highly conserved within one particular angiosperm species (Lemna turionifera), despite substantial among-strain variation in other life-history traits.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R
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