Outbreeding depression in progeny fitness may arise from disruption of local adaptation, disruption of allelic coadaptation, or a combination of these “environmental” and “physiological” mechanisms. Thus the minimum spatial scale over which outbreeding depression arises should depend on the spatial scale of gene dispersal and (with an environmental mechanism) of change in selection regimes. We previously reported substantial outbreeding depression in lifetime fitness of progeny resulting from crosses among parents separated by 100 m in natural populations of the herbaceous plant Ipomopsis aggregata. In this paper we explore the effect of crossing distance on fitness in two additional experiments begun in 1987 and 1990. We planted seed progeny derived from partial diallel crossing designs in randomized blocks in maternal environments and scored emergence of seedlings, survival, and eventual flowering of individuals over the subsequent six to eight years. Nested within each diallel design were crossing distances of 1 m, 10 m, and 100 m. Compared to 1-m and 10-m progeny, 100-m progeny of the 1987 diallel suffered a significant reduction in seedling emergence, and both 1-m and 100-m progeny that survived to flower achieved lower λ-values on average than 10-m progeny. Total outbreeding depression suffered by 100-m relative to 10-m progeny was approximately 10%, compared to approximately 30% in our earlier study of I. aggregata. Progeny of 10-m crosses also outperformed 1-m and 100-m progeny of the 1990 diallel by approximately 5%, but no difference among crossing distance treatments was significant. Thus, the magnitude of outbreeding depression in 100-m crosses varied among experiments. This is not surprising given likely spatial and temporal variation in gene flow and selection regimes, different population histories, and different parental and progeny environments. Characterizing outbreeding depression on the shortest spatial scales over which it is expressed, as well as its variation and causes, is worthwhile because it promises to shed light on the earliest stages of angiosperm speciation.
Corresponding Editor: K. Holsinger