Plant Diversity ›› 2010, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (03): 270-280.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1143.2010.10015

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Altitudinal Variations in Reproductive Allocation of Bergenia purpurascens (Saxifragaceae)

WANG Yun1, HU LiJuan2, DUAN YuanWen1, YANG YongPing1   

  1. 1 Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research at Kunming, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650204, China; 2 Horticutlure Administration Bureau of Jinan, Jinan 250102, China
  • Received:2010-01-14 Online:2010-06-25 Published:2010-09-06
  • Contact: YANG YongPing

Abstract: The strategy of resource allocation between vegetative and reproductive functions, quantitative relationship between size and reproductive output are central aspects of plant lifehistory. To test the tactics of resource allocation and its altitudinal trend, we examined the reproductive allocation (RA) of Bergenia purpurascens (Saxifragaceae), in six populations along a shady slope in Sejila Mountain of southeast Tibet, at an altitude gradient from 4 200 m to 4 640 m. Our results showed that (1) with increasing altitude, vegetative biomass, reproductive biomass, total aboveground biomass, flower number per plant and length of flower stalk decreased significantly, but the number of leaves did not change greatly. However, the change of RA did not show a monotonic trend when altitude increased, shifting from significantly decreasing below the tree line to slightly increasing above it; (2) vegetative biomass was positively correlated with reproductive biomass, but negatively correlated with RA in all populations, but the level of significance was different among the populations; (3) RA decreased with individual size in all populations, whereas the relationship between absolute resource allocated to reproduction and individual size was allometric; (4) reproductive allometry and a size threshold for reproduction did exist in this alpine perennial, but the obvious altitudinal trend was only found along the populations below the tree line, not above it. We then concluded the altitude could not fully explain the change of resource allocation strategy of this alpine perennial, and different effects of size and habitat on RA may result from various environmental constraints along the altitudinal gradient or genetic background. Therefore, each individual within a population will follow its own developmental trajectory shaped by its genotype and the habitats. The most innovative finding was plant adaptation and resource tradeoff might be sharply altered at the tree line, which is a sensitive area in alpine mountains. Further investigations are needed to better understand the relationship between the reproductive allocation and changing environmental conditions.

Key words: Reproductive allocation

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