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To grow or to seed: ecotypic variation in reproductive allocation and cone production by young female Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis, Pinaceae)

Climent, José, Prada, M[ordinal indicator, feminine]. Aránzazu, Calama, Rafael, Chambel, M[ordinal indicator, feminine]. Regina, de Ron, David Sánchez, Alía, Ricardo
American journal of botany 2008 v.95 no.7 pp. 833-842
Pinus halepensis, adaptation, asexual reproduction, coasts, fire regime, founder effect, habitats, life history, longevity, nonlinear models, plant reproduction, provenance, resource allocation, seeds, stems, trees, vegetative growth
Age and size at the first reproduction and the reproductive allocation of plants are linked to different life history strategies. Aleppo pine only reproduces through seed, and, as such, early female reproduction confers high fitness in its infertile highly fire-prone habitats along the Mediterranean coast because life expectancy is short. We investigated the extent of ecotypic differentiation in female reproductive allocation and examined the relation between early female reproduction and vegetative growth. In a common-garden experiment, the threshold age and size at first female reproduction and female reproductive allocation at age seven differed significantly among Aleppo pine provenances of ecologically distinct origin. Significant correlations among reproductive features of the provenances and the ecological traits of origin were found using different analytical tools. In nonlinear models of cone counts vs. stem volume, medium-sized trees (not the largest trees) produced the highest cone yield, confirming that, at the individual level, early female reproduction is incompatible with fast vegetative growth. The contribution of founder effects and adaptation to contrasting fire regimes may be confounding factors. But considering all traits analyzed, the geographical patterns of resource allocation by Aleppo pine suggest ecotypic specialization for either resource-poor (favoring early reproduction) or resource-rich (favoring vegetative growth) habitats.