Characterizing correlates of phytochemical resistance trait variation across a landscape can provide insight into the ecological factors that have shaped the evolution of resistance arsenals. Using field-collected data and a greenhouse common garden experiment, we assessed the relative influences of abiotic and biotic drivers of genetic-based defense trait variation across 41 yellow monkeyflower populations from western and eastern North America and the United Kingdom. Populations experience different climates, herbivore communities, and neighboring vegetative communities, and have distinct phytochemical resistance arsenals. Similarities in climate, as well as herbivore and vegetative communities, decline with increasing physical distance separating populations, and phytochemical resistance arsenal composition shows a similarly decreasing trend. Of the abiotic and biotic factors examined, temperature and the neighboring vegetation community had the strongest relative effects on resistance arsenal differentiation, whereas herbivore community composition and precipitation have relatively small effects. Rather than simply controlling for geographic proximity, we jointly assessed the relative strengths of both geographic and ecological variables on phytochemical arsenal compositional dissimilarity. Overall, our results illustrate how abiotic conditions and biotic interactions shape plant defense traits in natural populations.
|Date made available
|Dec 7 2022