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Disproportionate carbon and water maintenance costs of large corollas in hot Mediterranean ecosystems

AuthorsTeixido, Alberto L.; Valladares Ros, Fernando
KeywordsCistus ladanifer
Floral transpiration rates
Corolla area
Floral net carbon exchange rates
Floral temperature
Cistus albidus
Issue Date19-Feb-2014
CitationPerspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 16(2): 83-92 (2014)
AbstractLarger corollas increase the reproductive success of entomophilous plants, but are also associated with increased carbon and water costs, especially under hot and dry conditions. Minimizing floral carbon and water loss by reducing corolla size should be potentially advantageous for plants living in these environments. We quantify maintenance costs of corollas (water and carbon) in large-flowered rockroses (Cistus spp.) in a Mediterranean ecosystem. We performed field studies of two coflowering sympatric Cistus of contrasting corolla size to analyze water costs. Additionally, we used the larger-flowered species (C. ladanifer) to analyze the effects of intraspecific variation in corolla size on floral net carbon exchange and transpiration rates. We also assessed the mean daily percentage of plant water and carbon consumed by corollas by comparing with that of leaves at the time of flowering in C. ladanifer. Temperature and corolla area increased water maintenance costs, following an allometric relationship where transpiration rate per unit of area increased with corolla area. Larger flowers tended to heat less under strong irradiance than smaller ones in both species, especially in C. ladanifer, demonstrating a stronger transpirational cooling effect on larger flowers. In terms of carbon, temperature significantly affected net carbon exchange rates, which were not affected by corolla size. Daily water and carbon expenses of corolla were ca. 50% of those of leaves on an organ surface area basis. Our results suggest that water and carbon maintenance costs of large flowers in the Mediterranean impose significant constraints to corolla size, ecophysiologically favoring smaller-flowered individuals in these ecosystems. © 2014 Geobotanisches Institut ETH, Stiftung Ruebel.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.ppees.2014.02.002
issn: 1618-0437
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