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Ann Bot. 2007 Dec;100(6):1259-70. Epub 2007 Sep 19.

Population dynamics of diploid and hexaploid populations of a perennial herb.

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  • 1Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Zámek 1, CZ-252 43 Průhonice, Czech Republic.



Despite the recent enormous increase in the number of studies on polyploid species, no studies to date have explored the population dynamics of these taxa. It is thus not known whether the commonly reported differences in single life-history traits between taxa of different ploidy levels result in differences in population dynamics.


This study explores differences in single life-history traits and in the complete life cycle between populations of different ploidy levels and compares these differences with differences observed between different habitat types and years. Diploid and hexaploid populations of a perennial herb, Aster amellus, are used as the study system. Transition matrix models were used to describe the dynamics of the populations, and population growth rates, elasticity values and life-table response experiments were used to compare the dynamics between populations and years.


The results indicate that between-year variation in population dynamics is much larger than variation between different ploidy levels and different habitat conditions. Significant differences exist, however, in the structure of the transition matrices, indicating that the dynamics of the different ploidy levels are different. Strong differences in probability of extinction of local populations were also found, with hexaploid populations having higher probability than diploid populations, indicating strong potential differences in persistence of these populations.


This is the first study on complete population dynamics of plants of different ploidy levels. This knowledge will help to understand the ability of new ploidy levels to spread into new areas and persist there, and the interactions of different ploidy levels in secondary contact zones. This knowledge will also contribute to understanding of interactions of different ploidy levels with other plant species or other interacting organisms such as pollinators or herbivores.

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