Short distances between extreme microhabitats do not result in ecotypes in Syntrichia caninervis

Lauren A. Reynolds, D. Nicholas McLetchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Phenotypic variation occurs in many populations of plants. When this variation occurs along an environmental gradient, the immediate question is whether the variation is attributed to phenotypic plasticity, ecotypes, or some combination of the two. The moss Syntrichia caninervis appears morphologically variable along an environmental gradient changing rapidly from low light, low temperature, and high moisture levels in the understory microhabitat to high light, high temperature, and low moisture levels in the intershrub microhabitat. We tested for the presence of physiological variation using recovery from a heat-shock event in a mimicked microhabitat light environment, and for morphological variation using a common garden with the ultimate goal of attributing observed variation to plasticity, genetic variation, or a combination. The results suggest that plasticity plays a large role in trait variation. Photosynthetic recovery depended on the current light levels of an environment and not the original microhabitat. The supposed morphological variation in the field was not reflected in the test traits (awn length, leaf area, and shoot volume) and further growth in a common garden continued to show no variation between microhabitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-153
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Bryology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Common garden
  • Desert
  • Ecotypes
  • F /F
  • Phenotypic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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