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Am J Bot. 2000 Jul;87(7):995-1003.

Is the Prunella (Lamiaceae) hybrid zone structured by an environmental gradient? Evidence from a reciprocaltransplant experiment.

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  • 1Institut für Umweltwissenschaften der Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstr. 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland;


Hybrid zones may be structured by environmentally independent selection against intrinsically unfit hybrids (tension zone models), or by environmentally dependent fitness differences among parental species and hybrids (ecological selection-gradient models). A 30-m slope in a mountain grassland harbors a hybrid zone of the clonal perennials, Prunella grandiflora and P. vulgaris (Lamiaceae), with P. grandiflora in the upper, P. vulgaris in the lower, and both parental species and P. grandiflora × P. vulgaris Hybrids in a narrow middle part. We found gradients for soil depth and water content, and vegetation height and biomass along the slope. A reciprocal transplant experiment yielded crossing reaction norms for vegetative reproduction. Parental species were locally adapted to their home sites, while the three taxa did not differ in vegetative reproduction in the Hybrid transplant site. Local adaptation for vegetative reproduction of P. grandiflora was mediated through higher survival and that of P. vulgaris through higher ramet number, indicating adaptation of their clonal growth strategies (phalanx vs. guerrilla) to the different habitats. Hybrid performance was intermediate between that of the parental species in all three sites, although Hybrids flowered more often than the parental species in the Hybrid site. Our results support ecological selection-gradient rather than tension zone models.

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