Characteristics & Types of Ecotypes

An ecotype is a variety in which the phenotypic variations are insufficiently few or too small to qualify as a subspecies. These various variations can coexist in the same geographic area in ecologically varied environments such as meadows, forests, swamps, and dunes.

Characteristics of Ecotypes

  • Despite having different genotypes, ecotypes of a species are always interfertile.
  • When grown in a natural environment, they maintain their original characteristics.
  • Ecotypes are fixed genetically.
  • Based on morphological and physiological traits, a species with a wide ecological amplitude can be divided into various habitat forms or ecotypes.
  • They can be found in various habitats.
  • Ecotypes are distinct organisms with observable distinctions that set one ecotype apart from another.
  • The differences are the result of natural selection on populations with local adaptations rather than a plastic response to environmental change.

Types of Ecotypes

According to varying environmental conditions, ecotypes may be of following types:

Climatic ecotypes:

Climate-related ecotypes are those that are created as a result of different climatic conditions such as light, temperature, water, and wind. The climatic ecotypes in Leontodon autumnalis were documented by Turesson in 1930.

Edaphic ecotypes:

 Edaphic ecotypes are those that are created as a result of variations in edaphic or soil variables, such as soil moisture, an abundance or lack of nutrients, a change in soil pH, etc. Both Lindenbergia polyantha and Euphorbia thymifolia were researched by Misra and Rao (1948) and Ramkrishnan (1961), who identified numerous edaphic ecotypes in each plant.

Climatic-Edaphic ecotypes:

Climate-edaphic ecotypes are those that are the result of the interaction between climatic and edaphic elements. Ecotypes of Cenchrus ciliaris that are climatic-edaphic have been described by Panday and Jayant (1970).

Altitudinal and latitudinal ecotypes:

Changes in altitude and latitude lead to the emergence of these ecotypes. Numerous gymnosperms, including Cassia tora, Pinus, and Anagallis arvensis, also exhibit these ecotypes.

Physiological ecotypes:

These ecotypes are created as a result of physiological variations in photoperiod, water absorption, nutrient intake, etc. For instance, in Boutelona curtipendula, there are two photoperiodic ecotypes—short days and long days—that are morphologically similar.

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