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Fitness of natural willow hybrids in a pioneer mosaic hybrid zone.

ABSTRACT: Hybrid fitness is an important parameter to predict the evolutionary consequences of a hybridization event and to characterize hybrid zones. We studied fitness parameters of F1 and later-generation hybrids between the lowland species Salix purpurea and the alpine S. helvetica that have recently emerged during colonization of an alpine glacier forefield. Fruit production (number of capsules per catkin and fruit set) did not differ between hybrids and parents, but the number of seeds per capsule of F1 hybrids was slightly lower than that of later-generation hybrids and of the parents. Germination rates and seedling growth were tested on three substrates (pH 4.5, 7.0, and 8.0). Germination rates of seeds collected from F1 hybrids were lower on acid and neutral substrates, but equal at pH 8.0 compared to all other groups, while the seeds from later-generation hybrids performed as well as the parents on all three substrates. In seedling growth, the colonizer S. purpurea performed better than all other taxa on all three substrates, while hybrids resembled the subalpine species S. helvetica. Results suggest that endogenous selection acts against F1 hybrids, but favors fitter genotypes in later-generation hybrids. Exogenous selection via soil pH appears to be weak during seedling establishment. The pioneer vegetation on the glacier forefield may offer sufficient niche space for hybrid seedlings. Owing to the relatively high fitness of the hybrids and the scattered distribution of hybrids and parental individuals on the glacier forefield, this hybrid zone can be assigned to a mosaic model, probably facilitating gene flow and introgression between the parental species. As establishment of the hybrid zone appears to be linked to a colonization process, we propose to call it a pioneer mosaic hybrid zone.

SUBMITTER: Gramlich S 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6093150 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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