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Demand‐driven resource investment in annual seed production by a perennial angiosperm precludes resource limitation

Ida, Takashi Y., Harder, Lawrence D., Kudo, Gaku
Ecology 2013 v.94 no.1 pp. 51-61
Magnoliophyta, breeding season, cross pollination, defoliation, forests, fruits, inbreeding depression, ovules, perennials, pollen, reproductive performance, resource allocation, seed development, seeds, self-pollination
The limits on annual seed production have long been characterized as restriction by either pollination success or resource provision to seed development. This expected dichotomy between pollen and resource limitation is based on the assumption that reproductive resources are fixed, which is reasonable for semelparous species. In contrast, iteroparity can ease the constraints on reproductive output per breeding season, if resources can be either mobilized from past storage or borrowed against future performance. For perennial plants, these options allow enhanced reproductive investment in response to unusually good pollination, so that annual seed production may not be pollen or resource limited. We assessed demand‐governed reproductive investment by manipulating both resource supply capacity (partial defoliation) and resource demand (pollination quality: fully self‐pollination, fully cross‐pollination, or combinations of partial self‐ and cross‐pollination within the inflorescence) for a forest herb, Stenanthium occidentale, which is subject to strong pre‐dispersal inbreeding depression. Insensitivity to partial defoliation indicated that reproductive output was not source regulated. Instead, demand by developing seeds governs resource distribution, as demonstrated by elevated photosynthate translocation to fruits on fully cross‐pollinated plants and the ability of completely defoliated plants to produce seeds. Such contingent resource allocation eliminates a simple dichotomy between pollen receipt and resource availability as limits on annual seed production. Instead, such flexible reproductive investment allows iteroparous perennials to participate maximally in current reproduction (as determined by ovule production) following superior pollination, or to conserve resources for future reproduction following poor pollination.