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Ecology. 2006 Aug;87(8):2014-25.

Demography of central and marginal populations of monkeyflowers (Mimulus cardinalis and M. lewisii).

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Department of Plant Biology, 166 Plant Biology Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


Every species occupies a limited geographic area, but how spatiotemporal environmental variation affects individual and population fitness to create range limits is not well understood. Because range boundaries arise where, on average, populations are more likely to go extinct than to persist, range limits are an inherently population-level problem for which a demographic framework is useful. In this study, I compare demographic parameters and population dynamics between central and marginal populations of monkeyflowers, Mimulus cardinalis and M. lewisii, along an elevation gradient spanning both species' ranges. Central and marginal populations of both species differed in survival and fecundity. For M. lewisii, these components of fitness were higher in central than in marginal populations, but for M. cardinalis the converse was true. To assess spatiotemporal variation in population dynamics, I used transition matrix models to estimate asymptotic population growth rates (lambda) and found that population growth rates of M. lewisii were highest at the range center and reduced at the range margin. Population growth rates of M. cardinalis were highest at the range margin and greatly reduced at the range center. Life table response analysis decomposed spatiotemporal variation in lambda into contributions from each transition between life stages, finding that transitions from large nonreproductive and reproductive plants to the seed class and stasis in the reproductive class made the largest contributions to spatial differences in lambda. These transitions had only low to moderate sensitivities, indicating that differences in projected population growth rates resulted mainly from observed differences in transition matrix parameters and their underlying vital rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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