Morphological plasticity in response to shading in three Convolvulus species of different ecological breadth
We evaluated in common-garden experiments the morphological plasticity to shading of three Convolvulus species that occur in Chile and differ in ecological breadth. Convolvulus arvensis L. is a world weed distributed along the country, and is found in open as well as in shaded habitats. Convolvulus chilensis Pers. is a Chilean endemic species typical of coastal habitats, and is found in open to partially open sites. C. demissus choisy occurs only on slopes of the Andes of Chile and Argentina, habitats with high incidence of solar radiation. We hypothesized that the magnitude of phenotypic plasticity to shading of these species would correlate with their ecological breadth. Shading had a significant effect on internode length, petiole length, stem diameter, stem length, number of branches, leaf area, leaf shape, leaf biomass, and specific leaf area. Species differed in all the morphological traits except leaf biomass. A significant Shading x Species interaction in the two-way ANOVA, i.e. differential plasticity to shading of Convolvulus species, was found for petiole length, stem length, number of branches, leaf shape, and specific leaf area. Contrary to our hypothesis, tests of parallelism showed that, in general, the plasticity to shading of C. chilensis (the species of intermediate ecological breadth) was the greatest, and that of C. arvensis (the weed) and C. demissus (the species of narrow distribution) was similar. Issues of ecotype differentiation, in the case of C. arvensis, and the role of life history traits are raised to explain the observed lack of association between ecological breadth and magnitude of phenotypic plasticity.