Data from: Strong genetic differentiation but not local adaptation towards the range limit of a coastal dune plant
Samis, Karen E.; Lopez Villalobos, Adriana; Eckert, Christopher G. (2016), Data from: Strong genetic differentiation but not local adaptation towards the range limit of a coastal dune plant, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.k9b4n
All species have limited geographic distributions; but the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms causing range limits are largely unknown. That many species’ geographic range limits are coincident with niche limits suggests limited evolutionary potential of marginal populations to adapt to conditions experienced beyond the range. We provide a test of range limit theory by combining population genetic analysis of microsatellite polymorphisms with a transplant experiment within, at the edge of, and 60 km beyond the northern range of a coastal dune plant. Contrary to expectations, lifetime fitness increased towards the range limit with highest fitness achieved by most populations at and beyond the range edge. Genetic differentiation among populations was strong, with very low, non-directional gene flow suggesting range limitation via constraints to dispersal. In contrast, however, local adaptation was negligible, and a distance-dependent decline in fitness only occurred for those populations furthest from home when planted beyond the range limit. These results challenge a commonly held assumption that stable range limits match niche limits, but also raise questions about the unique value of peripheral populations in expanding species’ geographical ranges.