Testing the abundant center model using range-wide ...

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Title Testing the abundant center model using range-wide demographic surveys of two coastal dune plants
Author(s) Karen E. Samis, Christophe-R G. Eckert
Journal Ecology (Washington D C)
Date 2007
Volume 88
Issue 7
Start page 1747
End page 1758
Abstract It is widely accepted that species are most abundant at the center of their geographic ranges and become progressively rarer toward range limits. Although the abundant center model (ACM) has rarely been tested with range-wide surveys, it influences much thinking about the ecology and evolution of species' distributions. We tested ACM predictions using two unrelated but ecologically similar plants, Camissonia cheirathifolia and Abronia umbellata. We intensively sampled both throughout their one-dimensional distributions within the Pacific coastal dunes of North America, from northern Baja California, Mexico, to southern Oregon, USA. Data from >1100 herbarium specimens indicated that these limits have been stable for at least the last 100 years. Range-wide field surveys detected C. cheiranthifolia at 87% of 124 sites and A. umbellata at 54% of 113 sites, but site occupancy did not decline significantly toward range limits for either species. Permutation analysis did not detect a significant fit of geographical variation in local density to the ACM. Mean density did not correlate negatively with mean individual performance (plant size or number of seeds/plant), probably because both Species Occur at low densities. Although size and seeds per plant varied widely, central populations tended to have the highest values for size only. For C. cheiranthifolia, we observed asymmetry in the pattern of variation between the northern and Southern halves of the range consistent with the long-standing prediction that range limits are imposed by different ecological factors in different parts of the,geographical distribution. However, these asymmetries were difficult to interpret and likely reflect evolutionary differentiation as well as plastic responses to ecological variation. Both density and seeds per plant contributed to variation in seed production per unit area. In C. cheiranthifolia only, sites with highest seed production tended to occur at the range center. as predicted by the ACM and assumed by theory proposing that range limits evolve via antagonism between natural selection and gene flow.

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