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Spreading recruitment over time to cope with environmental variability

AutorBraza, Rita; García González, María Begoña
Palabras claveAnnual and perennial populations
Plantago coronopus
Seed dimorphism
Seedling survival
Fecha de publicaciónfeb-2011
CitaciónPlant Ecology 212(2): 283-292 (2011)
ResumenSeedling establishment is one of the most vulnerable life cycle stages, and a key component for the population dynamics in short-lived plants. In unpredictable environments, timing of emergence is critical for the success of plant performance, and different adaptive bet-hedging strategies have evolved to reduce the risk of failure in recruitment. In this study we describe the spatio-temporal pattern of seedling emergence (overall rate and timing) and survival in four contrasting Mediterranean habitats for Plantago coronopus, a small herb with dimorphic seeds. We then explore the importance of spreading germination within years, as well as the role of the two types of seeds from a broader temporal perspective. Populations strongly differed for all recruitment components analyzed in a given year, but this spatial differentiation diluted when a longer period was considered. Apical (smaller) seeds germinated later and in a significantly lower proportion than basal (larger) seeds. Both late emergents and seedlings from apical seeds had lower survival probability in a rainy year. However, our results suggest that in a population having the lowest production of apical seeds, late emergents coming from apical seeds may constitute a large fraction of yearly recruitment and that their performance was non-significantly different from that of early emergents over the 4-year study period. This study provides evidence of the importance of two related traits (spreading seedling emergence through time by producing dimorphic seeds) as bet-hedging strategies to cope with environmental unpredictability. This is at least partly accomplished by increasing the potential of recruitment in favourable years, instead of buffering such important process in extremely bad years.
Descripción10 paginas, 3 figuras, 2 tablas.-- El PDF es la versión de autor.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11258-010-9821-y
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