Selection on phenotypic plasticity of morphological traits in response to flooding and competition in the clonal shore plant Ranunculus reptans
van Kleunen, M.
de Kroon, H.
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Adaptive evolution of phenotypic plasticity requires that plastic genotypeshave the highest global fitness. We studied selection by spatial heterogeneity of interspecific competition and flooding, and by temporal heterogeneity of flooding on morphological plasticity of 52 genotypes of the clonal shore plant Ranunculus reptans. Competition reduced clone size, rosette size, leaf length and stolon internode thickness. Flooding had similar effects and reduced competition. Differences in selection between environments imply potential for either local adaptation or for indirect evolution of phenotypic plasticity. We also detected direct selection for plastic reductions in internode length in response to flooding and for a plastic increase in internode length in response to competition. Plastic responses of some morphological traits to flooding were in line with selection thereon, suggesting that they indeed are adaptive and might have evolved in response to direct selection on plasticity.