This paper analyses the size-dependent reproductive pattern of Rumex obtusifolius L. growing in lucerne crops (Medicago sativa L.), and its importance in determining the existence of a short-term reproductive cost. Size effects on reproductive pattern were evaluated by determining the role of plant size at the time of first reproduction, and the size-dependency of flowering probability (estimated as the proportion of flowering plants), plant fecundity, and reproductive effort (estimated as the ratio between reproductive and vegetative biomass). These parameters were recorded over the reproductive episodes determined by crop harvesting during the reproductive period. The results showed that size was much more important than age in determining time of first reproduction. Seed output decreased progressively over the reproductive period, probably in relation to an increasing short-term reproductive cost caused by a gradual depletion of plant resources. Probability of flowering over the successive reproductive episodes increased with plant size. The allometric relationship of vegetative versus reproductive biomass indicated that reproductive biomass increased less sharply than vegetative biomass and, consequently, reproductive effort decreased as plant size increased. Assuming a direct relationship between reproductive effort and reproductive cost, the size-dependent flowering probability could reflect, in turn, the existence of a size-dependent reproductive cost that would decrease as plant size increased. Ecological implications of these results are discussed. © 2002 Éditions scientifiques et médicales Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Oct 2002|
- Reproductive allocation
- Reproductive effort