Article: article from journal or magazin.
Sexual dimorphism in androdioecious Mercurialis annua, a wind-pollinated herb
International Journal of Plant Sciences
Gender-dimorphic species often display a degree of sexual dimorphism in terms of life-history traits, yet little is known about dimorphism in androdioecious plants. Here we investigate sexual dimorphism in an androdioecious population of the wind-pollinated herb Mercurialis annua by comparing the resource allocation strategies of males and hermaphrodites grown under different nutrient-availability and competitive regimes. We found that males displayed smaller aboveground vegetative sizes than did hermaphrodites, but neither soil nutrient availability nor competition had a strong independent effect on their relative sizes. Plants adjusted their relative reproductive investment in response to nutrient availability. Specifically, hermaphrodites increased their reproductive allocation when growing in poor soils, whereas males displayed the opposite response. Finally, hermaphrodites were strongly female biased in their sex allocation, and this was more pronounced in nutrient-poor soils. To conclude, sexual dimorphism in androdioecious M. annua shares many features with dioecious and gynodioecious species, particularly wind-pollinated herbs. However, the direction of sex-allocation reaction norms displayed by hermaphrodites of M. annua differs from that documented for several insect-pollinated gynodioecious species, hinting at the importance of either the pollination mode or the sexual system as a context of selection shaping the reproductive strategy of plants with both male and female functions.
competition, reproductive allocation, sex allocation, sexual dimorphism, trade-offs, wind pollination
Web of science
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