Plant Diversity ›› 2014, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (05): 661-667.DOI: 10.7677/ynzwyj201414008

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Changes in Reproductive Allocation after Expansion from the Glacial Refugium and Implications for the Distribution Range in the QinghaiTibet Plateau Native Herb, Gymnaconitum gymnandrum (Ranunculaceae)


  1. 1 College of Plant Protection, Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming 650201, China; 2 Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
  • Received:2014-01-16 Online:2014-09-25 Published:2014-03-25
  • Supported by:

    国家自然科学基金 (31270434)


A fundamental goal of ecology and evolution is to explain patterns of species distribution and abundance. However, the way in which stable distribution ranges are shaped by natural selection is still poorly understood, especially whether patterns of resource allocation have contributed to the range size and the formation of range boundary received little attention. For annual herb, the maximum reproductive allocation is predicted to be 50%, and thus we predicted that reproductive allocation might contribute to the formation of range boundary since plant will enhance allocations to reproduction in stressful environments. In this study, we presented our data on resource allocation between population from the glacial refegium and those from the marginal populations in Gymnaconitum gymnandrum, an alpine biennial native to the QinghaiTibet Plateau, aiming to find the contribution of resource allocation to the formation of range boundary. Our results showed that resource allocations to vegetative organs, including roots, plant height and stemleaf biomass, were significantly higher in the refugium population that in the two marginal populations, and allocations to reproductive organs, including flower number and flower biomass, were significantly lower in one marginal population (Haibei population) than in the other marginal population (Xinghai population) and the refugium population (Tongren population). However, reproductive allocation was significantly higher in the marginal populations than in the refugium population. In addition, in each of the three populations, we found a positive relationship between the plant size and flower biomass but a negative relationship between the plant size and reproductive allocation. Our results indicated a sizedependent reproductive allocation in Ggymnandrum, but we did not find a size threshold for reproduction in each of the three populations of this plant, which might be attributed to the life history of this biennial herb. We also suggested that reproductive allocation was increased during the process of range expansion and may rise to the optimal reproductive allocation in the marginal populations, which suggested the important role of sexual reproduction for plants in more stressful environments and the formation of range boundary. However, these conclusions need to be further proved in other plant species.

Key words: Gymnaconitum gymnandrum, Refugium, Expansion, Reproduction allocation, Range boundary

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