Faculté des sciences

Life-history variation in contrasting habitats: flowering decisions in a clonal perennial herb (Veratrum album)

Hesse, Elze ; Rees, Mark ; Müller-Schärer, Heinz

In: The American Naturalist, 2008, vol. 172, no. 5, p. E196–E213

Quantifying intraspecific demographic variation provides a powerful tool for exploring the diversity and evolution of life histories. We investigate how habitat-specific demographic variation and the production of multiple offspring types affect the population dynamics and evolution of delayed reproduction in a clonal perennial herb with monocarpic ramets (white hellebore). In this species,... Plus

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    Summary
    Quantifying intraspecific demographic variation provides a powerful tool for exploring the diversity and evolution of life histories. We investigate how habitat-specific demographic variation and the production of multiple offspring types affect the population dynamics and evolution of delayed reproduction in a clonal perennial herb with monocarpic ramets (white hellebore). In this species, flowering ramets produce both seeds and asexual offspring. Data on ramet demography are used to parameterize integral projection models, which allow the effects of habitat-specific demographic variation and reproductive mode on population dynamics to be quantified. We then use the evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) approach to predict the flowering strategy—the relationship between flowering probability and size. This approach is extended to allow offspring types to have different demographies and density-dependent responses. Our results demonstrate that the evolutionarily stable flowering strategies differ substantially among habitats and are in excellent agreement with the observed strategies. Reproductive mode, however, has little effect on the ESSs. Using analytical approximations, we show that flowering decisions are predominantly determined by the asymptotic size of individuals rather than variation in survival or size-fecundity relationships. We conclude that habitat is an important aspect of the selective environment and a significant factor in predicting the ESSs.