Quantifying and understanding reproductive allocation schedules in plants

Ecology and Evolution
Elizabeth Hedi Wenk, Daniel S Falster


A plant's reproductive allocation (RA) schedule describes the fraction of surplus energy allocated to reproduction as it increases in size. While theorists use RA schedules as the connection between life history and energy allocation, little is known about RA schedules in real vegetation. Here we review what is known about RA schedules for perennial plants using studies either directly quantifying RA or that collected data from which the shape of an RA schedule can be inferred. We also briefly review theoretical models describing factors by which variation in RA may arise. We identified 34 studies from which aspects of an RA schedule could be inferred. Within those, RA schedules varied considerably across species: some species abruptly shift all resources from growth to reproduction; most others gradually shift resources into reproduction, but under a variety of graded schedules. Available data indicate the maximum fraction of energy allocated to production ranges from 0.1 to 1 and that shorter lived species tend to have higher initial RA and increase their RA more quickly than do longer-lived species. Overall, our findings indicate, little data exist about RA schedules in perennial plants. Available data suggest a wide range o...Continue Reading


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