Edaphic Stress and Sex Ratios

Silene vulgaris flowering at the Callahan Mine, Brooksville, Maine

There is a trend across plant species of changes from hermaphroditism to dioecy in stressed populations. Bladder campion, Silene vulgaris (Caryophyllaceae), has mixed populations of hermaphrodites and females, and grows on mine tailings and non-mine soil in the region. The stressful conditions of mine tailings may have led to a shift away from hermaphroditism towards dioecy in S. vulgaris. This spring and summer I will look for a change in breeding system by comparing the sex ratios of S. vulgaris at Callahan Mine, a Cu-, Pb-, and Zn-enriched site in Brooksville, ME, with populations growing on non-mine soil. While I am comparing field sex ratios, I will also collect seed from mine-tailings and non-mine populations, to grow in a reciprocal transplant experiment in the laboratory, in order to differentiate between any phenotypically plastic and evolutionary changes in sex ratio in response to the mine tailing soil.

Awards and Recognitions:

Maine Space Grant Consortium Research Fellowship, College of the Atlantic (2011): $2,000

Contacts:

Mailing: 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Email: rvandyke@coa.edu

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