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Disturbance-dependent spatial distribution of sexes in a gynodioecious understory shrub

AuthorsCastilla, Antonio R. ; Wiegand, Thorsten; Alonso, Conchita ; Herrera, Carlos M.
Issue Date2012
CitationBasic and Applied Ecology 13: 405- 413 (2012)
AbstractSeveral ecological conditions and processes occurring naturally in plant populations may lead to spatial aggregation of sexes within populations of sexually polymorphic species. In addition, ecological disturbances such as forest management or fire could also affect the spatial distribution of sexes within populations. Spatial aggregation of sexes can have important consequences for the fitness of the individuals in sex-biased patches through increased pollen limitation and/or variation in the male fitness of hermaphrodites. Therefore, spatial aggregation of sexes could be relevant for the maintenance of the sexual polymorphism in plant species. Here, we used point pattern analysis to study the spatial distribution of female and hermaphrodite individuals within a single population of the gynodioecious understory shrub Daphne laureola, inhabiting a young pine reforestation and the adjacent natural undisturbed area. In the undisturbed area, we found that hermaphrodites were distributed randomly whereas females were spatially aggregated at short distances. Such aggregation could result from narrower ecological amplitude, cyto-nuclear determination of sex and limited dispersal and/or increased cloning in females. In the reforested area, females were slightly more abundant and the two sexes were randomly distributed among all plants. Recolonization processes after certain forest disturbances could thus favour the establishment of females and alter the spatial distribution of sexes in this understory species. © 2012.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.baae.2012.08.005
issn: 1439-1791
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