Many plants display limited seed dispersal, thereby creating an opportunity for sibling competition, i.e. fitness-determined interactions between related individuals. Here I investigated the consequences of intra-specific competition, by varying density and genetic composition of neighbors, on the performance of seedlings derived by selfing or outcrossing of the partially self-fertilizing plant Plantago coronopus (L.). Seedlings from eight plants, randomly selected from an area of about 50 m2 in a natural population, were used in (i) a density series with either one, four or eight siblings of each cross type per pot and (ii) a replacement series with eight plants per pot where selfed and outcrossed siblings were grown intermixed in varying frequencies. Density had a pronounced effect on plant performance. But, except for singly grown individuals, no differences were detected between selfed and outcrossed progenies in vegetative and reproductive biomass. When grown intermixed, selfed offspring were always inferior to their outcrossed relatives. The magnitude of reduction in performance was dependent on the number of outcrossed relatives a selfed seedling had to compete with, giving rise to a frequency-dependent fitness advantage to outcrossed seedlings. The major result of this study is (i) that the relative fitness of inbred progeny is strongly affected by the type of competitors (inbred or outbred) and (ii) that inbreeding depression varies according to the density and frequency of outbred plants and could be considered as a density- and frequency-dependent phenomenon. It is argued that sibling competition, due to the small genetic neighborhood of P. coronopus, might be an important selective force in natural populations of this species. [KEYWORDS: frequency-dependence, genetic relatedness, inbreeding depression, mating system, sibling competition, size hierarchy]
Original languageEnglish
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Journal publication date2004

ID: 338563