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J Evol Biol. 2008 Jan;21(1):234-45. Epub 2007 Nov 17.

Re-establishment of clinal variation in flowering time among introduced populations of purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria, Lythraceae).

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Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.


Range expansion during biological invasion requires that invaders adapt to geographical variation in climate, which should yield latitudinal clines in reproductive phenology. We investigated geographic variation in life history among 25 introduced populations of Lythrum salicaria, a widespread European invader of North American wetlands. We detected a strong latitudinal cline in initiation of flowering and size at flowering, which paralleled that reported among native populations. Plants from higher latitudes flowered earlier and at a smaller size than those from lower latitudes, even when raised in a uniform glasshouse. Early flowering was associated with greatly reduced reproductive output, but this was not associated with latitudinal variation in abundance, and probably did not result from a genetic correlation between time to and size at flowering. As introduction to North America c. 200 years ago, L. salicaria has re-established latitudinal clines in life history, probably as an evolutionary response to climatic selection.

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