Climate change will test the evolutionary potential of populations. Information regarding the genetic architecture within and among populations is essential for prediction of evolutionary outcomes. However, little is known about the distribution of genetic variation for relevant traits in natural populations or alteration of genetic architecture in a changing environment. In this study, pedigreed families from three populations of the annual prairie legume Chamaecrista fasciculata were reciprocally transplanted in three environments across a broad latitudinal range in the Great Plains. The underlying premise of this work is that northern populations will in the future experience climates similar to current-day climates further south. Estimates of narrow-sense heritability ranged from 0.053 to 0.481, suggesting the potential for evolutionary change is possible for most traits. In general, the northern population harbored less genetic variation and had lower heritability for traits than the southern population. This population also experienced large reductions in fitness, as measured by estimated lifetime fecundity, when raised in either the intermediate or the southern climate, whereas the difference between the intermediate and southern population was less extreme. For fecundity, the pattern of cross-environment additive genetic correlations was antagonistic to evolutionary change in four of six cases when native and nonnative sites were compared. Six additional antagonistic positive correlations were found for the rate of phenological development and leaf thickness. Overall, the data suggest that if climate changes as predicted, the northern population will face a severe evolutionary challenge in the future because of low heritabilities, cross-environment genetic correlations antagonistic to selection, and demographic instability due to lower seed production in a hotter and drier climate.
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