Climate change will alter natural selection on native plant populations. Little information is available to predict how selection will change in the future and how populations will respond. Insight can be obtained by comparing selection regimes in current environments to selection regimes in environments similar to those predicted for the future. To mimic predicted temporal change in climate, three natural populations of the annual legume Chamaecrista fasciculata were sampled from a climate gradient in the Great Plains and progeny of formal crosses were reciprocally planted back into common gardens across this climate gradient. In each garden, native populations produced significantly more seed than the other populations, providing strong evidence of local adaptation. Phenotypic selection analysis conducted by site showed that plants with slower reproductive development, more leaves, and thicker leaves were favored in the most southern garden. Evidence of clinal variation in selection regimes was also found; selection coefficients were ordered according to the latitude of the common gardens. The adaptive value of native traits was indicated by selection toward the mean of local populations. Repeated clinal patterns in linear and nonlinear selection coefficients among populations and within and between sites were found. To the extent that temporal change in climate into the future will parallel the differences in selection across this spatial gradient, this study suggests that selection regimes will be displaced northward and different trait values will be favored in natural populations.
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