Across large spatial scales, plants often exhibit genetically based differentiation in traits that allow adaptation to local sites. At smaller spatial scales, sharp boundaries between edaphic conditions also can create strong gradients in selection that counteract gene flow and result in local adaptation. Few studies, however, have examined the degree to which continuous populations of perennial plants exhibit genetically based differentiation in life-history traits over small spatial scales. We quantified the degree of genetically based differentiation in adaptive traits among bush lupine (Lupinus arboreus) from nearby dune and grassland sites (sites separated by <0.75 km) that formed part of a larger continuous population of L. arboreus. We also investigated the spatial genetic structure of bush lupine by examining how genetic structure differed between seeds and juvenile plants that were less than two years old. We calculated F-statistics from gel electrophoresis of 10 polymorphic loci. We then used these values to infer levels of gene flow. To examine differentiation in adaptive traits, we created full-sibling/half-sibling families of lupine within each area and established reciprocal common gardens at each site. Across two years, we measured canopy volume, flowering time, seed set, and mortality of progeny planted in each garden. Spatial genetic structure among seeds was virtually nonexistent (FST = 0.002), suggesting that gene flow between the three areas could be quite high. However, genetic structure increased 20-fold among juvenile plants (FST = 0.041). We found strong evidence for fine-scale genetically based differentiation and local adaptation in adaptive traits such as plant size, flowering phenology, fecundity, and mortality. Thus, it is likely that strong but differing selection regimes within each area drive spatial differentiation in lupine life-history traits.
Corresponding Editor: S. Tonsor