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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

Morphological variability is high among individuals within Acacia aneura populations and varies in extent among populations inversely with the average annual precipitation of the site. Within sites, reproductive phenology is correlated with individual morphology in A. aneura, with a similar form of the correlation extending across sites. A similar correspondence between reproductive phenology and morphology is evident among species in mixed-species Acacia vegetation. Shrub combined size vs. distance relationships in near-neighbors are of positive slope and tighter where moisture is more limited. Different ecomorphs are not randomly distributed within the vegetation. Residuals from size-distance relationships are positively correlated with the degree of morphological difference in neighboring shrubs. Evidence suggests that variation is neither selectively neutral, nor primarily associated with herbivore defense via apostatic selection, but overall it favors the hypothesis that morphological differences in A. aneura are maintained through autogenic niche differentiation.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of California


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