Biparental inbreeding and interremnant mating in a perennial prairie plant: Fitness consequences for progeny in their first eight years

Stuart Wagenius*, Helen H. Hangelbroek, Caroline E. Ridley, Ruth G. Shaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Despite fundamental importance to population dynamics, mating system evolution, and conservation management, the fitness consequences of breeding patterns in natural settings are rarely directly and rigorously evaluated. We experimentally crossed Echinacea angustifolia, a widespread, perennial prairie plant undergoing radical changes in distribution and abundance due to habitat fragmentation. We quantified the effects of both biparental inbreeding and crossing between remnant populations on progeny survival and reproduction in the field over the first eight years. Lifetime fitness is notoriously difficult to assess particularly for iteroparous species because of the long sequence and episodic nature of selection events. Even with fitness data in hand, analysis is typically plagued by nonnormal distributions of overall fitness that violate the assumptions of the usual parametric statistical approaches. We applied aster modeling, which integrates the measurements of separate, sequential, nonnormally distributed annual fitness components, and estimated current biparental inbreeding depression at 68% in progeny of sibling-mating. The effect of between-remnant crossing on fitness was negligible. Given that relatedness among individuals in remnant populations is already high and dispersal very limited, inbreeding depression may profoundly affect future dynamics and persistence of these populations, as well as their genetic composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-771
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Aster life-history analysis
  • Echinacea angustifolia
  • Genetic rescue
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Inbreeding depression
  • Outbreeding depression
  • Restoration
  • Self-incompatibility
  • Tallgrass prairie

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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