Main content area

Is the proportion of clonal species higher at higher latitudes in Australia?

Zhang, Hongxiang, Bonser, Stephen P., Chen, Si‐Chong, Hitchcock, Timothy, Moles, Angela T.
Austral ecology 2018 v.43 no.1 pp. 69-75
Spermatophytina, abiotic stress, asexual reproduction, latitude, parasites, plant growth, regression analysis, vegetation, Australia
We provide a large‐scale quantification of the relationship between latitude and the proportion of species with clonal reproduction. Parasite pressure is thought to be higher at low latitudes, while abiotic stress is thought to be higher at high latitudes. We therefore predicted that there would be a higher proportion of clonal species at high latitudes than at low latitudes. We collected data of 4386 native seed plant species from 446 genera and 99 families present in ABRSFlora of Australia. Species' occurrence records were taken from the Atlas of Living Australia, including 817 450 species‐site combinations spanning 34.5° of latitude. Logistic regression showed that the proportion of clonal species significantly increased with latitude, rising from 3.3% clonal species at 9.25°S to 26.7% clonal species at 43.75°S. The overall average proportion of clonal species in Australian seed plants was 9.4%. This study adds to our growing understanding of dramatic latitudinal gradients in the way plants grow and reproduce. It also reveals that Australian vegetation contains a relatively low proportion of clonally reproducing species.