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Data from: Parental environmental effects due to contrasting watering adapt competitive ability, but not drought tolerance, in offspring of a semi-arid annual Brassicaceae

Citation

Metz, Johannes; von Oppen, Jonathan; Tielbörger, Katja (2016), Data from: Parental environmental effects due to contrasting watering adapt competitive ability, but not drought tolerance, in offspring of a semi-arid annual Brassicaceae, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.j07v7

Abstract

1. Parental effects (PE) can be adaptive and improve offspring performance when parents and offspring experience similar environmental conditions. However, it is unknown whether adaptive PE exist also in habitats where such similarity is unlikely due to strong temporal variation. In particular, we do not know whether PE can adapt offspring to fluctuating levels of neighbour competition in such habitats. 2. Here, we tested for adaptive PE in terms of two key environmental factors in a semi-arid annual system, competition and drought. While rainfall was stochastic in the study site, the competitive environment was partly predictable: higher plant densities followed after favourable (rainy) years due to high seed production. We therefore expected PE to adapt the offspring's competitive ability to these (predictable) fluctuations in plant densities, rather than to adapt the offspring's drought tolerance to the (unpredictable) occurrence of intensified drought. 3. Parental plants of Biscutella didyma, an annual Brassicaceae, were raised under favourable watering and under drought conditions. Offspring performance was then tested under a full-factorial combination of two neighbour regimes and six watering levels in the glasshouse. 4. Offspring of parents grown under favourable conditions were stronger competitors. This was associated with a small shift in phenology but not with higher parental seed provisioning. Offspring from parents grown under drought showed no improved drought tolerance. Moreover, no PE were detectable when offspring were grown without neighbours. 5. Our results suggest a novel path of adaptive PE: higher competitive ability was induced in offspring that were more likely to experience high neighbour densities. Together with the lack of adaptive PE towards drought tolerance, this emphasizes that a correlation between parental and offspring environment is crucial for adaptive PE to evolve. Our results also call for the inclusion of competitive effects in future PE studies. 6. Synthesis. This study demonstrates the important role of adaptive PE for plant fitness (regarding competition) but also their limits (regarding drought) in temporally variable environments, based on the predictability of the respective environmental factor.

Usage Notes

Location

semi-arid Eastern Mediterranean