UBC Research Data

Data from: Life history variation in an invasive plant is associated with climate and recent colonization of a specialist herbivore Williams, Jennifer L.; Duncan, Sophie S.



Premise: Spatial variation in selective pressures can lead to intraspecific variation in life history, favoring some life histories and constraining others depending on the vulnerability of life stages. We examined how spatial variation in herbivory and climate influences flowering size and the occurrence of semelparity (reproducing once) versus iteroparity (reproducing multiple times) in the introduced range of an invasive plant, houndstongue (Cynoglossum officinale). Houndstongue is a short-lived semelparous perennial in its native range. In its introduced range, we previously documented increased rates of iteroparity and a higher median threshold flowering size compared to the native range. We hypothesized that the recent introduction of a specialist biocontrol insect (a root-boring weevil, Mogulones crucifer) would decrease threshold flowering size, and reduce the proportion of iteroparous plants, because M. crucifer preferentially attacks large individuals and may reduce overwinter survival.

Methods: We surveyed 24 sites across the northwestern United States to quantify the frequency of semelparity versus iteroparity and to estimate weevil abundance, and used demographic data collected from six sites to estimate median threshold flowering size.

Key Results: We found that sites with greater winter precipitation and no weevils had a greater proportion of iteroparous plants. Sites with higher weevil attack had a lower median threshold flowering size.

Conclusions: The variation in frequency of flowering and threshold flowering size that we documented in North American houndstongue populations and the relationships between this variation and herbivory and climate provide evidence for how selective pressures covary with the life histories of invasive plants.

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