Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 381–393 | Cite as

Correlated patterns of variation in phenology and seed production in populations of two annual grasses along an aridity gradient

Original Paper


I applied a comparative approach to reveal correlated patterns of variation in phenology and seed production in four populations of two annual grasses Hordeum spontaneum and Avena sterilis, sampled in the same environments distributed along an aridity gradient in Israel. The steep aridity gradient in Israel represents two parallel clines of environmental productivity (annual rainfall) and predictability (variation in amount and timing of annual rainfall) that is likely to induce similar responses in natural plant populations distributed along the gradient, if (1) selection is strong, (2) species share the same ecological niche, and (3) there is genetic variation for ecologically important traits. I found in plants of both species (1) ultimate advance in onset of flowering, and (2) more but smaller seeds, with increasing aridity. The broad sense heritabilities of onset of flowering, seed size and seed yield in both species were very high, moderate and low, respectively. It appears that the observed adaptive complex of traits have evolved in both species in response to this specific array of environments.


Local adaptation Seed size-number trade-off Population differentiation Comparative approach 



I would like to thank Mark van Kleunen and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Life Sciences DepartmentBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer ShevaIsrael

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