We test whether physiological integration enhances the short-term fitness of the clonal herb Hydrocotyle peduncularis (Apiaceae, R. Brown ex A. Richards) subjected to spatial variation in water availability. Our measures of fitness and costs and benefits are based on the relative growth rate of fragmented genets. Physiological integration over a gradient in soil moisture resulted in a highly significant net benefit to genet growth of 0.015 g g-1 day-1. This net benefit represents a significant enhancement of the average fitness of fragmented genets spanning the moisture gradient relative to the average of those growing in homogeneous moist or dry conditions. Sections of genet fragments growing in dry conditions in spatially heterogeneous treatments had significantly higher growth than the sections they were connected to that were growing in moist conditions. Within fragments, older (parent) sections growing in moist conditions experienced significant costs from connection to younger (offspring) sections growing in dry conditions. In contrast, offspring sections with ample water did not experience any costs when connected to parent sections growing in dry conditions. However, the net benefit of physiological integration was similar for parent and offspring sections, suggesting that parent and offspring sections contributed equally to the net benefit of physiological integration to genet growth and short-term fitness.
- Clonal growth
- Physiological integration
- Spatial heterogeneity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics