- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)Abstract Background and Aims In a range of plant species, the distribution of individual mean fecundity is skewed and dominated by a few highly fecund individuals. Larger plants produce greater seed crops, but the exact nature of the relationship between size and reproductive patterns is poorly understood. This is especially clear in plants that reproduce by exhibiting synchronized quasi-periodic variation in fruit production, a process called masting. Methods We investigated covariation of plant size and fecundity with individual-plant-level masting patterns and seed predation in 12 mast-seeding species: Pinus pinea, Astragalus scaphoides, Sorbus aucuparia, Quercus ilex, Q. humilis, Q. rubra, Q. alba, Q. montana, Chionochloa pallens, C. macra, Celmisia lyallii and Phormium tenax. Key Results Fecundity was non-linearly related to masting patterns. Small and unproductive plants frequently failed to produce any seeds, which elevated their annual variation and decreased synchrony. Above a low fecundity threshold, plants had similar variability and synchrony, regardless of their size and productivity. Conclusions Our study shows that within-species variation in masting patterns is correlated with variation in fecundity, which in turn is related to plant size. Low synchrony of low-fertility plants shows that the failure years were idiosyncratic to each small plant, which in turn implies that the small plants fail to reproduce because of plant-specific factors (e.g. internal resource limits). Thus, the behaviour of these sub-producers is apparently the result of trade-offs in resource allocation and environmental limits with which the small plants cannot cope. Plant size and especially fecundity and propensity for mast failure years play a major role in determining the variability and synchrony of reproduction in plants.more » « less
Annually variable and synchronous seed production by plant populations, or masting, is a widespread reproductive strategy in long‐lived plants. Masting is thought to be selectively beneficial because interannual variability and synchrony increase the fitness of plants through economies of scale that decrease the cost of reproduction per surviving offspring. Predator satiation is believed to be a key economy of scale, but whether it can drive phenotypic evolution for masting in plants has been rarely explored.
We used data from seven plant species (
Quercus humilis, Quercus ilex, Quercus rubra, Quercus alba, Quercus montana, Sorbus aucupariaand Pinus pinea) to determine whether predispersal seed predation selects for plant phenotypes that mast.
Predation selected for interannual variability in Mediterranean oaks (
Q. humilisand Q. ilex), for synchrony in Q. rubra, and for both interannual variability and reproductive synchrony in S. aucupariaand P. pinea. Predation never selected for negative temporal autocorrelation of seed production.
Predation by invertebrates appears to select for only some aspects of masting, most importantly high coefficient of variation, supporting individual‐level benefits of the population‐level phenomenon of mast seeding. Determining the selective benefits of masting is complex because of interactions with other seed predators, which may impose contradictory selective pressures.
Synchronous pulses of seed masting and natural disturbance have positive feedbacks on the reproduction of masting species in disturbance‐prone ecosystems. We test the hypotheses that disturbances and proximate causes of masting are correlated, and that their large‐scale synchrony is driven by similar climate teleconnection patterns at both inter‐annual and decadal time scales.
Hypotheses were tested on white spruce (
Picea glauca), a masting species which surprisingly persists in fire‐prone boreal forests while lacking clear fire adaptations. We built masting, drought and fire indices at regional (Alaska, Yukon, Alberta, Quebec) and sub‐continental scales (western North America) spanning the second half of the 20th century. Superposed Epoch Analysis tested the temporal associations between masting events, drought and burnt area at the regional scale. At the sub‐continental scale, Superposed Epoch Analysis tested whether El Niño‐Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its coupled effects with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) in the positive phase (AMO+/ENSO+) synchronize drought, burnt area and masting. We additionally tested the consistency of our synchronization hypotheses on a decadal temporal scale to verify whether long‐term oscillations in AMO+/ENSO+ are coherent to decadal variation in drought, burnt area and masting.
Analyses demonstrated synchronicity between drought, fire and masting. In all regions the year before a mast event was drier and more fire‐prone than usual. During AMO+/ENSO+ events sub‐continental indices of drought and burnt area experienced significant departures from mean values. The same was observed for large‐scale masting in the subsequent year, confirming 1‐year lag between fire and masting. Sub‐continental indices of burnt area and masting showed in‐phase decadal fluctuations led by the AMO+/ENSO+. Results support the ‘Environmental prediction hypothesis’ for mast seeding.
Synthesis. We provide evidence of large‐scale synchronicity between seed masting in Picea glaucaand fire regimes in boreal forests of western North America at both inter‐annual and decadal time scales. We conclude that seed production in white spruce predicts changes in disturbance regimes by sharing the same large‐scale climate drivers with drought and fire. This gives new insides in a mechanism providing a fire‐sensitive species with higher than expected adaptability to changes in climate.
Wind disperses the pollen and seeds of many plants, but little is known about whether and how it shapes large-scale landscape genetic patterns. We address this question by a synthesis and reanalysis of genetic data from more than 1,900 populations of 97 tree and shrub species around the world, using a newly developed framework for modeling long-term landscape connectivity by wind currents. We show that wind shapes three independent aspects of landscape genetics in plants with wind pollination or seed dispersal: populations linked by stronger winds are more genetically similar, populations linked by directionally imbalanced winds exhibit asymmetric gene flow ratios, and downwind populations have higher genetic diversity. For each of these distinct hypotheses, partial correlations between the respective wind and genetic metrics (controlling for distance and climate) are positive for a significant majority of wind-dispersed or wind-pollinated genetic data sets and increase significantly across functional groups expected to be increasingly influenced by wind. Together, these results indicate that the geography of both wind strength and wind direction play important roles in shaping large-scale genetic patterns across the world’s forests. These findings have implications for various aspects of basic plant ecology and evolution, as well as the response of biodiversity to future global change.
Our overall objective is to synthesize mast-seeding data on North American Pinaceae to detect characteristic features of reproduction (i.e. development cycle length, serotiny, dispersal agents), and test for patterns in temporal variation based on weather variables. We use a large dataset ( n = 286 time series; mean length = 18.9 years) on crop sizes in four conifer genera ( Abies , Picea , Pinus , Tsuga ) collected between 1960 and 2014. Temporal variability in mast seeding (CVp) for 2 year genera ( Abies , Picea , Tsuga ) was higher than for Pinus (3 year), and serotinous species had lower CVp than non-serotinous species; there were no relationships of CVp with elevation or latitude. There was no difference in family-wide CVp across four tree regions of North America. Across all genera, July temperature differences between bud initiation and the prior year (Δ T ) was more strongly associated with reproduction than absolute temperature. Both CVp and Δ T remained steady over time, while absolute temperature increased by 0.09°C per decade. Our use of the Δ T model included a modification for Pinus , which initiates cone primordia 2 years before seedfall, as opposed to 1 year. These findings have implications for how mast-seeding patterns may change with future increases in temperature, and the adaptive benefits of mast seeding. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The ecology and evolution of synchronized seed production in plants’.more » « less