Evolutionary perspectives in plant ecophysiology.
DAWSON, T.E.* 1, D.ACKERLY 2 and M.LECHOWICZ 3
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94704-1200 USA 1
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-1926 USA 2
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec Canada 3
The historical roots of physiological ecology are in comparative biology, particularly comparative physiology. When set in a phylogenetic context, comparisons among species that differ in form and function can reveal the degree to which traits are adaptive responses to an environment versus legacies of past events in a lineage. This evolutionary perspective provides new insights and strengthens the conclusions that can be drawn about the interactions between plants and their environment. We present a brief historical review and perspective on this sort of research at the interface between plant ecophysiology and evolutionary ecology. With data we show the promise, the pitfalls and some potential directions that this research agenda might fruitfully take. Specifically, we show how traits, measured on plants in the field and in common gardens, are being used to examine the origin of adaptations, how specific traits or suites of traits that confer some functional benefit to particular species within a clade may have evolved, and how an understanding of macroevolutionary patterns can help in identifying the possible agents of natural selection that may have influenced trait evolution. We draw our examples from a range of plant families, taxa and life forms growing across a wide range of conditions. We conclude that evolutionary perspectives can enrich and reinvigorate studies in physiological ecology that focus on how species do, or might, adapt to different environments.
This abstract is being presented at: 2:15 PM in session:
Symposium # 16: Plant Physiological Ecology: Linking the Organism to Scales Above and Below.