Are hybrid species more fit than ancestral parent species in the current hybrid species habitats?

L.A. Donovan, D.R. Rosenthal, M. Sanchez-Velenosi, L.H. Rieseberg, F. Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Hybrid speciation is thought to be facilitated by escape of early generation hybrids into new habitats, subsequent environmental selection and adaptation. Here, we ask whether two homoploid hybrid plant species (Helianthus anomalus, H. deserticola) diverged sufficiently from their ancestral parent species (H. annuus, H. petiolaris) during hybrid speciation so that they are more fit than the parent species in hybrid species habitats. Hybrid and parental species were reciprocally transplanted into hybrid and parental habitats. Helianthus anomalus was more fit than parental species in the H. anomalus actively moving desert dune habitat. The abilities to tolerate burial and excavation and to obtain nutrients appear to be important for success in the H. anomalus habitat. In contrast, H. deserticola failed to outperform the parental species in the H. deserticola stabilized desert dune habitat, and several possible explanations are discussed. The home site advantage of H. anomalus is consistent with environmental selection having been a mechanism for adaptive divergence and hybrid speciation and supports the use of H. anomalus as a valuable system for further assessment of environmental selection and adaptive traits
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)805-816
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • carbon-isotope discrimination
  • leaf ecophysiological traits
  • great-basin desert
  • helianthus-deserticola
  • local adaptation
  • bromus-tectorum
  • phenotypic selection
  • mineral-nutrition
  • wild sunflowers
  • dune plants


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