FitnessSubsamplingSimulations.R from Little plant, big city: a test of adaptation to urban environments in common ragweed (<i>Ambrosia artemisiifolia</i>)

A full understanding of how cities shape adaptation requires characterizing genetically-based phenotypic and fitness differences between urban and rural populations under field conditions. We used a reciprocal transplant experiment with the native plant common ragweed, (<i>Ambrosia artemisiifolia</i>), and found that urban and rural populations have diverged in flowering time, a trait that strongly affects fitness. Although urban populations flowered earlier than rural populations, plants growing in urban field sites flowered later than plants in rural field sites. This counter-gradient variation is consistent adaptive divergence between urban and rural populations. Also consistent with local adaptation, both urban and rural genotypes experienced stronger net selection in the foreign than in the local habitat, but this pattern was not significant for male fitness. Despite the evidence for local adaptation, rural populations had higher lifetime fitness at all sites, suggesting that selection has been stronger or more uniform in rural than urban populations. We also found that inter-population differences in both flowering time and fitness tended to be greater among urban than rural populations, which is consistent with greater drift or spatial variation in selection within urban environments. In sum, our results are consistent with adaptive divergence of urban and rural populations, but also suggest there may be greater environmental heterogeneity in urban environments which also affects evolution in urban landscapes.